Arriving in style at Pocono

ARCA Racing Series and American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car driver Jerick Johnson is quite familiar with a pace car escort around tracks on the ARCA circuit. A motorcycle escort to the track is another matter.

American Legion Riders from various Pennsylvania chapters wanted the 76 Freedom Car to arrive at Pocono Raceway in style in early June, so they gathered up nearly two dozen Riders and escorted Johnson and the Team Johnson Motorsports Crew more than 70 miles to the famed 2.5-mile paved triangle near Long Pond.

"It was awesome seeing all those Legion Riders leading and following us to the track," Johnson said. "The convoy turned a lot of heads along the way and even caught the attention of the ARCA officials. They were impressed."

Along the route, the Legion Riders and 76 Freedom Car team stopped to make a mid-afternoon appearance at Fort Indiantown Gap to show off the race car. Pennsylvania Legionnaires also set up an information booth. For nearly two hours, area resident, soldiers and their families dropped by the National Guard training center to see the car and get Johnson's autograph.

"This is really neat," one little girl said as she leaned into the driver side window of the 76 Freedom Car. Neat as it might have been, neither driver, her father, or bystanders could coax the 7-year-old into the car. "No way," she said.

The Pocono weekend was more an exercise of experience for Johnson than it was of result. Driver and crew spent most of their 100-minute practice time Friday morning not on the track, but, rather, in the garage struggling to locate a metallic rub and vibration. The problem eventually was traced to the drive shaft. Johnson ended up getting in only 18 practice laps, and his times were 28th fastest among 34 cars during practice.

Johnson retired The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car on the 35th lap of the Messina Wildlife Management 200 after a rear gear failure. His withdrawal from the ARCA Racing Series 80-lap event resulted in a 30th-place finish.

Despite the disappointment, Johnson remained 18th in ARCA Championship Points, atop the Hard Charger Category and fourth in ARCA Rookie Points.