The American Legion 76 Freedom Car races eventual ARCA series champion Patrick Sheltra at "The Rock" Saturday. Photo by James V. Carroll

Brakes ruin final 2010 race for Freedom Car

Jerick Johnson drove The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car to a 27th-place finish Saturday in the American 200 presented by Black’s Tire and Auto Service. The 200-lap, 200-mile race at North Carolina’s Rockingham Speedway was ARCA’s season ending event.

Johnson entered and ended the race 18th in Championship Points and in second place for the Imaging Hard Charger Award standings. Patrick Sheltra, who finished the race in fourth place, captured the series championship, as well as the hard charger season competition.

“We had ourselves in position to overtake the 60 Car (Sheltra) to capture the Hard Charger Award, but our brakes gave out,” a disappointed Johnson said after the race. “Brake problems have plagued us all season.”

Johnson needed to finish 18th to capture the 2010 Hard Charger Award – no matter how Sheltra finished. He was in 18th place with less than 90 laps remaining when he lost his brakes. A caution gave the 76 Freedom Car team an opportunity to raise the hood and search for the brake problem, but Johnson lost several laps before leaving the pits. He never recovered.

“I want to congratulate Patrick both for his championship season, but also his Hard Charger Award,” Johnson said after the race. “He knew what he had to do to protect both, and he went out and did it.

“We let this one slip through our fingers. We tested for four hours Thursday and had a pretty good practice Friday. I didn’t qualify as well as I would have liked, but I felt good about our chances in moving through the field.”

Indeed, the 76 Freedom Car moved steadily through the field before being lapped by the leaders on lap 47. Three laps later a caution handed Johnson a break – and the Lucky Dog – putting him at the tail end of the lead lap. A second caution landed Johnson in 18th place before his brakes failed.

“It would have been nice to have won the Hard Charger, but it’s gratifying that we were even in a position to win, given the fact that we were only in 16 of the 20 races this season,” Johnson said. “Had we raced all 20 events, who knows where we would have finished? A top 10 in the Championship Points would not have been out of the question, nor the Hard Charger Award.”