The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car team arrived in Nashville with a new race car and new determination, as they prepared to compete in a race that marked the halfway point of the ASA Late Model Series Challenge Series for 2009. The weekend began with a show car and driver appearance by Jerick Johnson at American Legion Post 88 in Donelson, Tenn. The team answered questions, signed autographs and talked racing with post members and their family and friends. Saturday was filled with practice sessions. Even though the team test drove the car for some time before this weekend, Johnson probably put it best by saying, "You can test all you want, but the only way to really learn a race car is to get in and go racing."
Prior to the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway 200 race, a group of nearly 50 American Legion Riders and passengers presented the colors. The group assembled at Donelson Post 88, then traveled to the state fairgrounds in formation. The Riders were appreciated greatly, as they received a round of applause from the crowd.
The race consisted of 200 laps around the historic .596-mile Nashville State Fairgrounds Speedway. When the 100-lap mandatory caution flag waved, Johnson was in ninth place.
Around lap 140, the lead cars began break checking when Johnson was in the middle of shifting gears. He hit the brakes hard, but was unable to avoid Car 25 in front of him. The 76 Freedom Car sustained front-end damage, but Johnson maintained control for the second half of the race and managed to hold off other challengers to finish 14th - two positions better than he started.
"This new 76 Freedom Car is great," Johnson said. "It handles really well and it's fast. We should have easily finished in the top 10 or better today. Mechanical problems, like those we've had in the past are hard to take, but this is even more frustrating."
Despite the 12th-place finish, The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom car headed into the Aug. 15 Nashville Superspeedway Music City 100 in ninth in ASA Late Model Challenge Series points standings. Johnson was in third in the Rookie of the Year points chase.