Splash & Go: Jimmie Johnson proves athleticism in Boston Marathon

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Jimmie Johnson accomplished no small feat on Monday when he completed his first attempt at the Boston Marathon.

Though he narrowly missed his personal goal of a sub 3-hour time, he capped off months of preparation for the 26.2-mile trek.

He finished the marathon in 3 hours, 9 minutes and 7 seconds at an average of 7:13 per mile.

On NASCAR America: Splash & Go, Dale Jarrett and Rick Allen, the latter a runner himself, discussed Johnson’s athletic feat.

“The performance was incredible, ” Allen said. “That’s going around your track at your high school or whatever, the quarter-mile track, that’s going a little more than a minute-and-a-half, every single lap for 26.2 miles. That’s fast. That’s really fast.

“People have said drivers aren’t athletes and they’ve questioned it. I say if you look at how someone prepares for something, that’s what I consider an athlete. Drivers get prepared to get behind the wheel of a car. Jimmie prepared to run 26.2 miles. In my mind, no question that was an extremely athletic performance.”

Jarrett observed that Johnson is one of the “very best athletes that’s ever sat in a race car.”

“The great ones are the ones who continue to push themselves in different ways,” Jarrett said.

Watch the above video for the full discussion.

Bump & Run: What should NASCAR do about inspection violations before race?

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Eight of 37 cars failed inspection before the Richmond Cup race and lost their starting spot. Is there a better way for NASCAR to handle such infractions to limit talk before a race being about penalties?

Nate Ryan: There has to be a solution, and whatever it is, NASCAR needs to implement it quickly. Switching from headlines about woes in postrace inspection to woes in prerace inspection is an improvement, but the preferred solution should be no headlines about inspection at all. 

Dustin Long: Until NASCAR figures out a way to do things differently, inspection failures will dominate talk before a race, especially if it involves more than 20% of the field as it did at Richmond.

Daniel McFadin: Unless you change the penalties for failing inspection (again), the cars will fail regardless of if you hold qualifying inspection right after qualifying or on race day. Only real solution I can think of is to have inspection before qualifying and for that to be the only inspection until after the race. That would just continue the endless cycle we seem to be in on the issue.

Jerry Bonkowski: It’s just the nature of the beast, particularly when you have such a large number of cars that failed pre-race inspection. The larger the number of cars penalized, the greater the attention that is placed upon the situation by the media. Perhaps more attention should be focused on what NASCAR could do to improve and streamline the overall inspection process. And if it has to swing the pendulum even further, increase penalties to keep crew chiefs from playing games with their cars. Kick out the crew chief from the race, or perhaps hold the car for the first five laps of the race. That will change things in a hurry.

NASCAR tried another format for Cup qualifying at Richmond, limiting each round to five minutes. Should this be the format at most tracks the rest of the season?

Nate Ryan: Makes no difference here as long as the focus is on qualifying results and whoever won the pole position, not on the process for getting there. 

Dustin Long: Whatever it does, NASCAR needs to get out of this rabbit hole soon.

Daniel McFadin: I’m 50/50 on this. I’d prefer the first round being 10 minutes at anything larger than 1 mile, which allows teams to make more than one run – but that’s based on the premise drivers won’t wait until the final minute to make their first.

Jerry Bonkowski: Five minutes works fine on short tracks. Not so much on longer tracks of 1.5 miles and greater. That’s why I believe open qualifying should be replaced by having two to four cars (depending on the size of the racetrack) go out at a time for two or three qualifying laps. This creates attention and a kind of race-within-qualifying excitement among fans to see which driver can “beat” the other drivers, so to speak.

There’s been a lot of talk about what Joe Gibbs Racing will do with its Cup lineup for next year with Christopher Bell’s continued success in Xfinity, but Cole Custer has won twice for Stewart-Haas Racing in Xfinity. What kind of dilemma could SHR face with its driver lineup for 2020?

Nate Ryan: With no disrespect to Cole Custer, he has yet to show he is in Christopher Bell’s league, nor is there the external pressure of a huge investment in his development to avoid letting a coveted prospect escape (as is the case with the millions Toyota Racing Development has spent on grooming Bell). Because Custer is related to the SHR executive Joe Custer and effectively sponsored by team owner Gene Haas, the dynamics are incomparable. If Custer shows enough promise for promotion, the team probably could make room in Cup next season, but there is no sense of urgency as exists with Bell.

Dustin Long: Gene Haas said last year that Cole Custer needed to win more often. If Custer continues to do so, it will make him a more inviting driver for a team, whether that is SHR or another Ford operation.

Daniel McFadin: Cole Custer is already in his third full-time Xfinity season, which makes him middle-aged in Xfinity driver years. While we’re not privy to driver contract lengths, Kevin Harvick is locked in to at least 2021, Daniel Suarez is in his first and Aric Almirola continues to be strong in his second year. Clint Bowyer probably has the biggest question mark being in his third year with the team. Gene Haas will have to decide who’s a better long-term investment: A 39-year-old Bowyer or a 21-year-old Custer. Bowyer grabbing some wins this year could complicate that.

Jerry Bonkowski: One potential option could be embedding Bell with another Toyota team such as Leavine Family Racing in 2020, like when Erik Jones was with Furniture Row Racing in 2017. I think you’ll see a similar embed of Custer with another Ford team, perhaps Front Row Motorsports. Or, because Custer’s father, Joe, is a top executive at SHR, it would not surprise me to see Daniel Suarez shifted to another Ford team to make way for the younger Custer at SHR.

The IndyCar race at Long Beach ended with series officials penalizing Graham Rahal one spot for blocking Scott Dixon on the last lap. Should blocking be a penalty in NASCAR?

Nate Ryan: No. Different series, different cars, different tracks.

Dustin Long: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Don’t need any more judgment calls for NASCAR to make.

Daniel McFadin: Heck no. As much as Tony Stewart may have despised it, blocking is a racing maneuver. If a driver doesn’t like it, just show your displeasure with a love tap to the rear bumper.

Jerry Bonkowski: Yes, particularly if it puts the driver being blocked and other trailing drivers at risk of crashing. I’ve long felt that egregious blocking should be penalized. But if that were to happen, it could open a Pandora’s Box of additional issues, such as bump-and-run moving an opponent out of the way. How would NASCAR draw the line between egregious blocking/bumping and legitimate blocking/bumping?

Jimmie Johnson ran in Monday’s Boston Marathon. What is another event you’d like to see a NASCAR driver attempt to take part in someday?

Nate Ryan: Denny Hamlin in a PGA Tour event and paired with Michael Jordan.

Dustin Long: Kyle Larson as a bobsled driver. Also, Denny Hamlin in a PGA Tour event.

Daniel McFadin: Since Ryan Newman is sponsored by Oscar Mayer, he should enter the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4.

Jerry Bonkowski: The Baja 1000 is the first one that comes to mind. That, to me, is the most grueling combination of man and machine. I’d also like to see more NASCAR drivers try their luck in the Indianapolis 500 and, conversely, do “the double” by racing later that same day in the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte. Lastly, although it would be difficult due to the Cup schedule, I’d also like to see some of the best golfers among Cup drivers try their luck at The Masters.

Jimmie Johnson completes Boston Marathon

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Jimmie Johnson completed the Boston Marathon on Monday, finishing the 26.2-mile route in 3 hours, 9 minutes and 7 seconds. His average pace was 7:13 per mile.

Johnson placed 4,155th overall. He was 3,746th among men and 641st in his division.

Johnson, who ran with bib number 4848, had stated his goal was to complete the marathon in less than three hours. His wave of runners left the starting line at 10:25 a.m. ET.

“I left the pace I wanted to try to hold and came up a little bit short of my goal,” Johnson told reporters after the race. “I wanted to race it and really run hard and challenge myself. I need some food. I’m afraid to sit down. I might not get back up. Everything is starting to tighten back up right now.”

Johnson said it was “amazing” how many people recognized him and his bib and cheered him on, “from banners and T-shirts. My sponsor Ally was at the firehouse (at mile marker 17) and took it over and decorated and I got a huge applause coming through there.”

Johnson also noted the “camaraderie” among fellow runners and the “energy” and “excitement” from fans with “kids passing out popsicles and waters. It was really amazing.”

For the first time, the marathon took place on the anniversary of the bombings that marked the event six years ago (April 15, 2013). The tragedy left a mark on Hendrick Motorsports.

“We had somebody close to Hendrick Motorsports … was lost in the bombing,” Johnson said. “Sean Collier was a security guard at MIT and was lost trying to apprehend the bombers. His brother (Andrew) worked in our engine shop and I’ve been able to meet with his family and spend time with them and take them to the races. I’ve been trying to bring up his name and honor him.”

Will Johnson return to the marathon in 2020?

“I’ve got to look at the car racing schedule,” Johnson said. “Somebody told me that it doesn’t work out as well. I’d like to have Sunday to recover some. So I need to look at it, but I’ve heard that with my time I’m qualified to come back. So, if I can, I will.”

The 2020 Boston Marathon is scheduled for Monday, April 20. The Cup Series is scheduled to compete at Richmond Raceway the day before.

Kenyan Lawrence Cherono won the marathon in a photo finish over Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa. Cherono won with a time of 2 hours, 7 minutes and 57 seconds.

For a time comparison, this year’s Daytona 500 was completed in 3 hours, 45 minutes and 55 seconds.

The 500-mile Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway took 3 hours, 16 minutes and 11 seconds.

In Johnson’s last Cup win at Dover International Speedway in June 2017, the time of the race was 3 hours, 52 minutes and 6 seconds.

Johnson took part in the marathon two days after competing in the 400 lap Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

Former Cup driver Michael Waltrip competed in the Boston Marathon in 2000 the day after a race at Talladega Superspeedway. He completed the route in 4 hours, 42 minutes and 20 seconds.

Below are tweets documenting Johnson’s marathon experience.

Speed Tweets: ‘Fog cannons,’ pre-crash selfies, Martinsville black holes

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There’s friendly competitor ribbing, then there’s just downright roasting.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace offered a prime example of this on Thursday.

While golfing, Wallace took a picture of a golf cart identified by the No. 12, which happens to be Blaney’s car number.

Wallace took the opportunity to poke fun at Blaney’s late-race struggles this season.

Blaney didn’t take it lying down, but may be regretting his response after finishing two laps down Saturday in Richmond.

Some big space news was announced earlier this week when the first picture of a black hole was revealed.

But according to Martinsville Speedway’s Twitter account, you can see plenty of black holes on the half-mile short track if you look closely enough.

Driver introductions are a spectacle these days.

The lights! The music! The crowd! The lasers! (There are lasers, right? There should totally be lasers.)

But there’s also “fog cannons.”

All this might be exciting for some, but it may not be the most kid-friendly scenario.

You know the saying, “Don’t selfie and cycle”?

Oh, well, you do now thanks to Noah Gragson.

In NASCAR if two people share the same unique last name, there’s a good chance they might be related.

Well, that’s not the case with the Moffitts.

Brett Moffitt, the defending Gander Outdoors Truck Series champion, wants everyone to know he is not related to ARCA driver Thad Moffitt.

If he were, he’d be a member of Richard Petty’s family.

Jimmie Johnson had an uneventful Saturday night in Richmond, which he’s probably OK with. Rain didn’t delay the Cup race at all as he finished 12th. That means his effort to compete in Monday’s Boston Marathon won’t be hindered and he gets a full day of rest.

Jimmie Johnson gearing up for first Boston Marathon

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While Jimmie Johnson will compete in this weekend’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway, that’s not the only sporting event on his schedule in the next four days.

For the last few months the seven-time Cup champion has been preparing to run in the Boston Marathon, which is scheduled for Monday after the Richmond race.

Johnson told Runner’s World last week his goal is to complete the 26.2-mile marathon in less than three hours.

“It’s an aggressive goal,” Johnson said. “Just the way my mind works, I need something to go chase. My first full, and on such a challenging course… who knows what sorts of elements we’re going to be dealing with, but I know it’s a very aggressive goal to set.”

Johnson said his plan is to travel to Boston Saturday night after the completion of the Cup race, ideally giving him a full 24 hours to recover before Monday’s race.

“The race will finish late, travel to Boston that evening and hopefully sleep in and really just try to keep my feet up throughout the day and replace, replenish, hydrate, fuel up, stretch and really just kind of spend the day trying to stay loose and stretch and literally just try to keep my feet elevated and try to get all that bad blood out and filtered,” Johnson said. “I have some NormaTec Recovery boots that I’ll probably take with me and spend some time in those.”

But Mother Nature could deter those plans. Rain is in the forecast for parts of Saturday in Richmond. The race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET. wunderground predicts a 20% chance of rain at race time, but there is a 60-70% chance for the five-hour window before that.

Rain is also in the forecast for the marathon, with a 100% chance when it starts at 9 a.m. ET.

Johnson noted the dilemma on Twitter.

The marathon is scheduled to begin at 9:02 a.m. ET Monday with the final wave of runners set to start at 11:15 a.m. ET. Johnson is in a wave scheduled to begin at 10:25 a.m. ET.

NBCSN will broadcast the marathon starting at 8:30 a.m. ET

You can keep track of Johnson specifically through the B.A.A. Marathon app by tracking Johnson’s bib number, 4848.