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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, February 17, 2013 10:05 pm

NASCAR drivers leave cars behind in half marathon

By DAN GELSTONAP Sports Writer

Jimmie Johnson turned a few extra laps at Daytona.

He just left the No. 48 car in the garage.

Johnson, the five-time Cup champion, was one of a handful of NASCAR personalities that ran early Sunday morning in the Daytona Beach half marathon. Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, Michael Waltrip and Aric Almirola ditched the firesuit for running clothes. The half marathon started and finished at the famed 2 1/2-mile superspeedway. The 13.1-mile course also goes to the beach and back.

They finished hours before Daytona 500 qualifying started.

"The half was all about just getting ready for the race," Waltrip said after his qualifying spin. "Make sure my brain, my mind, my body were all perfectly ready to come to Daytona for the 500. The half was a checkpoint."

Johnson likes his numbers to come with a 48 attached. He got his wish in the half marathon.

"I can say I've raced on the beach now! I ran the (at)daytonahalf in 1:29:48. (hash)Goodtimes," he posted on Twitter.

Kahne, wearing black shorts and stocking cap, retweeted a photo of himself crossing the finish line.

"Had a good run in the (at)DaytonaHalf Ended up at 1:28:45 in my first half. Running down the beach was the coolest part of the run," Kahne tweeted.

Johnson's spokesperson, Kristine Curley, raced. So did Almirola's wife. They all posed for a NASCAR group photo.

Waltrip, who turns 50 in April, was ready to run again.

"If I train harder, keep working, I can do another one," he said. "The only thing that really hurts me when I'm done is running is my knees. They don't hurt when I run. But for some reason, when I get done, they get all stiff."