Rain, fog halt 76 Freedom Car return to the track

Heavy rain and late night fog Tuesday interrupted short track racing for Jerick Johnson and The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car at New Smyrna Speedway in east central Florida. The delay however, did not mean the team enjoyed a day of rest.

Crewmembers David Carter and Adam "Jimmy" Deem rose early Tuesday morning with one goal in mind - to piece together the left side of their racecar. Johnson's car sustained serious damage Monday during a 25-lap race on the short track oval near Daytona. Despite the damage, Johnson crossed the finish line in seventh place.

Johnson and his crew worked feverishly Tuesday morning and into the afternoon, applying fiberglass, resin and rivets in an effort to get the 76 Freedom Car ready for scheduled practice laps. Then the rain came - and stayed, hovering over the track until nearly 6 p.m. Officials attempted to dry the half-mile track for the next four hours, and even attempted a round of practice, but cars kept slipping and sliding in the turns.

Johnson chose not to take part in the abbreviated practice.

"The track has little more than a groove and a half that's dry," Johnson said, as he watched car after car loose grip and spin around. "If we have to race tonight, there are going to be a lot of wrecked racecars. There's only one groove. To pass, high or low, means leaving the dry pavement. And that's not a good thing."

Then came the fog. Try as hard as they might, officials came to the conclusion that they were losing the track. Much to the relief of nervous car owner, officials threw in the towel at 10:30 p.m. Reason bested machismo.

Johnson and the 76 Freedom Car are scheduled to compete at the New Smyrna track each evening through Friday. Wednesday night Johnson will start the race on the inside of the fourth row.