American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car driver Jerick Johnson climbs from his car after his qualification run. Photo by James V. Carroll

Richmond race a struggle for Freedom Car

Jerick Johnson took his first laps around the three-quarter mile Richmond International Raceway Thursday. It’s an experience The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car driver wants to forget.

“The front breaks locked up during practice, and we spent most of the afternoon changing out a master cylinder,” Johnson said. “ We never really got to the bottom of the problem by qualification time and it hurt us.”

Johnson qualified 36th and managed less than one green-flag race lap before he pulled the wounded car into the infield.

A short time later, rain halted the race. A 90-minute rain delay gave Johnson’s crew an opportunity to work on the brakes and allow Johnson to re-enter the race. The brakes failed once again, ending Johnson’s night on lap 59, in 38th place.

It’s the second NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race that the Freedom Car has failed to advance in the field. On April 2, Johnson completed 12 laps at the half-mile Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina before a balky engine forced the 76 Car to the garage.

“This is not how we hoped to start our first season in the K&N Series,” Johnson said.

The Greenville Pickens and Richmond disappointments followed on the heels of a very successful series of February races at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida.

Johnson collected a second-place, two third-place and three fourth-place finishes during a week of races at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at the Florida track. His finishes earned him an overall third-place in the Crate Late Model Division.

Johnson intends to break his streak of disastrous finishes in K&N races May 21 at Iowa Speedway near Newton, Iowa.

“I have experience at Iowa, and the high-banked oval suits my style of racing,” Johnson said. “All we need to do is put a healthy car on the track and we will turn this season around.”