Team Johnson Motorsports' schedule was filled with events and race activities during July 4 weekend in Rockingham, N.C. There, the 76 Freedom Car visited nearby posts and raced in the ASA Late Model Cherry Bomb 100 event at The Rock.
The weekend was filled with American pride. The team's first show car appearance was on July 2 at American Legion Post 72 in Aberdeen. Post 72 Commander Rora Kellis, North Carolina Department Commander Lou Cook, Past Department Commanders Jim Mayhew, Richard Neville, and Jeff Joyner, and other Legionnaires welcomed the team with a BBQ fundraiser. The team and Legion members were treated to some of North Carolina's best barbecue and ice cold sweet tea to battle the blistering heat.
July 3 was a practice and qualifying day for the team. The crew worked diligently to prepare a setup for the race car. Having not been at Rockingham, the team worked fast to squeeze as much practice as possible into the weekend's two 45-minute practice sessions. Driver Jerick Johnson in the 76 Freedom Car qualified 18th for the July 4 race.
Later on July 3, Johnson and his crew visited Legionnaires and race fans at Rockingham VFW Post 4203. Marty Nielsen, an American Legion Riders commander and Sandhills Chapter 16 District commander, hosted an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner. Boy Scouts in attendance enjoyed the food, as well as The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Go Kart.
Independence Day arrived on a beautiful North Carolina summer day. The Cherry Bomb 200 is actually two races. The first 100-lap race was the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Series. The second was the ASA 100-lap main event. Because of the usual tire issues at The Rock, officials made the race a two-part event with a mandatory caution at lap 50. The 76 Freedom Car was able to complete the entire race and finish 15th.
"It was not the finish we were looking for," Johnson said. "We came here with higher expectations. We struggled with setup all weekend and did not have much practice time to dial the car in. Even though we didn't run as well as we would have liked, the car is in one piece and we finished our first race at Rockingham. That's a good thing."
A special thank you went to to Marty Nielsen. Upon hearing the race was at Rockingham, he took the initiative to organize activities and fundraisers for The American Legion Race Team. He arranged for discount tickets for veterans, planned and coordinated pre-race events, and provided a table and volunteers to help promote The American Legion and "Operation Freedom Car" program that supports our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Another special thank you went to The David Law Firm's representative, Brad Cooper, who joined the 76 Freedom Car team for Independence Day weekend events. The law firm assists veterans diagnosed with asbestos-related cancers. The firm's ad is featured every month on the "back page" of The American Legion Magazine.