American Legion/David law Firm 76 Freedom Car Driver Jerick Johnson will be watching the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 on SPEED today instead of competing behind the wheel of his ARCA Dodge Charger.
Johnson's 170.561 mph qualifying speed at the famed 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway was 45th fastest - too slow to earn him a place in the 41-car field. To earn a spot on the starting grid, Johnson needed to qualify 31st or higher. The remaining 10 cars in the field made the race on provisional points earned last year, regardless of qualifying speed.
Frustrating as failing to qualify might be, it was all the more disappointing because Johnson's practice laps Friday would have been fast enough to get him into the race during qualification. His 178.168 mph on Friday was more than seven miles faster that his qualifying effort.
"I knew on the warm-up lap that we were not going to make the show," Johnson said following his qualifying run. "We don't know what happened. The engine lost power. I had the gas pedal floored all the way around the track, but the engine wouldn't generate the speed we needed. We'll have to take the car back to the shop to find out what went wrong."
The 76 Freedom Car and Johnson may not be racking up laps Daytona today, but that doesn't mean they won't be behind the wheel. Johnson plans to be going fast and turning left a few miles south of Daytona at the a half-mile race track at New Smyrna. Late model races are scheduled for nine straight nights at the track, and Johnson plans to enter a number of them.
The next ARCA race for Team Johnson and the 76 Freedom Car is April 16 in the Rattlesnake 150 at Texas Motorspeedway. The race is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and will be televised live on SPEED.