Jerick Johnson moves to the outside to pass the No. 14 car early in the race. Johnson finished in 16th place, ahead of the No. 14 car. James V. Carroll

Freedom Car finishes 16th at Talladega

Jerick Johnson, driver of The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car, overcame an ill handling racecar to capture a 16th place finish at Talladega Superspeedway Friday. He qualified 30th in a starting field of 43 cars.

"Our strategy was to not charge through the field, but rather hang back out of trouble during the early laps," Johnson said following the 94-lap ARCA 250. "Talladega is famous for at least one big wreck that takes out a bunch of cars. We didn't want to be one of those cars."

Pit strategy and a yellow flag resulted in Johnson running as high as third place, but he was soon shuffled back through the field.

"We couldn't accelerate like the lead pack cars," Johnson said. We could eventually keep pace with the lap times of the cars up front, but by the time we got up to speed, we were shuffled back. And the car had a serious vibration like I've never experienced."

In addition to acceleration and vibration problems, the Team Johnson Motorsports crew was short-handed in the pits. The pit crew had to double up duties to accomplish tire changes and refueling.

"Despite it all, the crew rose to the challenges each and every time," Johnson said. "I'm proud of our crew. And we did what we came to Talladega to do. We not only completed the race with an intact racecar, we had a very respectable finish."

The Dodge Challenger brought to Talladega is the same car that narrowly missed qualifying at Daytona in February. The car, designed and set up to run only at super speedways, will be retired until Daytona in 2011.

The Freedom car travels May 23 to compete in the Menards 200 Federated Car Care race at Toledo Speedway, and then June 5th to Pocono Raceway to compete in the Pocono ARCA 200. The Pocono race will be televised live on SPEED.