Daytona International Speedway was not so kind to driver Jerick Johnson and The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car. More precisely, Johnson's ARCA race car turned out to be an erratic performer.
Johnson and the Team Johnson Motorsports crew arrived in Daytona for Speedweeks confident they had a machine capable of grabbing a spot in the starting grid of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at the famed speedway. Practice confirmed the team's confidence, as Johnson finished 28th fastest in a field of more than 50 cars.
Qualification day, however, brought shock. Johnson's qualification speed was 45th fastest - too slow to make the 43-car starting lineup. An engine problem sapped the car's horsepower, resulting in a speed loss of more than seven miles per hour.
"I am not disappointed with our efforts in Daytona, and everyone was great about working toward our goal to make the show," Johnson said, following his qualification run around the 2.5-mile high-banked tri-oval. "I am of course disappointed with the outcome. I would have loved to participate in my first Daytona Race. But our sponsors have been great, not only in their support of our American Legion/David Law Firm race team, but of my family and our effort in promoting The American Legion."
Speedweeks was not a complete loss, Johnson added. "We hauled our Crate Late Model Chevrolet with us so we could participate in the 44th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stockcar Racing at New Smyrna Speedway," Johnson said. "In our first race at the high-banked, one-half-mile oval, we finished in 13th place. In subsequent races we collected a couple top-10 finishes and one top-five finish. We also finished the week seventh in points."
In addition to race activities, Johnson and the 76 Freedom Car team visited a number of American Legion posts, including Post 285 in Edgewood, Fla.; Post 120 in Holly Hill, Fla.; and Post 347 in Lady Lake, Fla. The David Law Firm and the race team also hosted a dinner for veterans service officers at a restaurant in The Villages, Fla.
The 76 Freedom Car team is back in Mooresville, N.C., working on Johnson's intermediate ARCA car to get it ready for the April 16 Rattlesnake 150 at Texas Motorspeedway, which will be broadcast live on SPEED television.Johnson also thanked Past National Commander Butch Miller, Legion Racing national point of contact; Marilyn Britten, Michigan point of contact; Bill Walsh, Florida point of contact; Art Schwabe, Florida district commander; and Stuart Lewis from The David Law Firm, for their support.