Jimmie Johnson’s Sunday run in the Daytona Beach Half-Marathon was just a warmup for the main event.
The seven-time series champion announced Tuesday that he will be running the Boston Marathon, saying it’s “always been on my radar” as a bucket list item.
“Away from the car, there are plenty of goals that occupy my free time,” Johnson told Dave Burns during the debut of the Splash & Go segment for NBCSports.com. “Endurance sports is a big part of that.
“Watching the Boston Marathon the year of the bombing (in 2013), something clicked about me wanting to run that race, and once the bombing happened, I wanted to be part of Boston Strong.”
A NASCAR schedule shift that moved Bristol Motor Speedway to mid-April in 2014 precluded Johnson attempting the event, though, because the race is too physical.
This year, the Saturday, April 13 race at Richmond Raceway falls ahead of the April 15 marathon, giving Johnson a full day to recover.
“I’m punishing myself for that,” Johnson said with a laugh.
He began training in November, and his 14th-place finish in Sunday’s race at Daytona (where he won his age group with a time of 1 hour, 33 minutes before winning the Clash at Daytona International Speedway) was a halfway barometer of his fitness.
Johnson has been running 70 miles weekly since the start of the year and will ramp it up to 100 miles weekly through April.
He is hoping to clock in at the 3-hour mark in Boston. “It’s very aggressive,” he said. “A difficult place to get a (personal record).
“The competitor in me wants to go fast and put up a respectable time.”
Johnson, 43, will enter the race through an exemption from Gatorade, a longtime personal sponsor of the No. 48 driver.
He said he is looking forward to “being around like-minded people and the energy that comes from such a marquee event.”
It will be the first marathon for Johnson, who has run several half-marathons.
“I don’t know what 26.2 (miles) feels like,” he said. “I’ve been to 20 a handful of times already in the training. It takes two days to feel normal again. The challenge of completing the accomplishment, I’m drawn to that stuff. I’d love to see how far I can push myself. We’ll see how it shakes out on April 15.”