Driver Jerick Johnson and owner Jack Johnson discuss problems with 76 Freedom Car. The team bounced back to post the fastest lap in practice Friday. Photo by James V. Carroll

Johnson delivers fastest lap in practice

What a difference a day makes.

Driver Jerick Johnson and The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car crew bounced back from a disappointing practice day Thursday to capture the fastest lap in early practice today at New Smyrna Speedway as part of the World Series of Asphalt Stock.

Johnson scored an 18.53-second lap to best the field in the Crate Late Model Division. Qualification runs for the first race tonight are scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m., and the first races of the nine-night race card are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

“ I’ll take today over yesterday every time,” Johnson said. “ The crew did a fantastic job making lemonade out of a lemon.”

It was a contrast from Thursday, when rain and a stubborn racecar hampered valuable practice time for Johnson.

“It has not been a very pleasant day at the track,” Johnson said late Thursday afternoon. “A faulty transmission, failed spring and battery problems kept us on the jacks most of the day. Not a very good way to start, but we will get it sorted out.”

Rain kept the 76 Freedom Car off the track until well past noon, and when the track finally dried, Johnson was anxious to see what his car had in the way of speed. But the car had a different agenda, and it wasn’t speed. Every time Johnson attempted to accelerate, his Late Model Chevy bogged down and shivered as if it were trying to shake off the chill in the cool Florida air.

A cantankerous transmission was but one issue facing the Team Johnson Motorsports crew. The front left suspension gave way and the battery lost charge. With less than 10 laps on the track, Johnson nursed the ill car back to the garage for repairs.

The race crew pulled the tarp off their black POW/MIA car, hoping to get some good practice laps. But it also failed to cooperate. Battery problems sidelined the car after less than a handful of trips around the half-mile circuit.