Freedom Car crew changes out battery on pit road to avert a DNS. James V. Carroll

Freedom Car climbs points ladder

There are good news nights and bad news nights in stock car racing. Monday proved to be both for driver Jerick Johnson and The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car.

Riding high on two successive top-five runs, Johnson hoped to add to his fourth-place Crate Late Model Series point total at The World series of Asphalt Stock car racing at New Smyrna Speedway near Daytona, Fla. But on the first warm-up lap of Monday’s 25-lap feature, the battery in the 76 Freedom car died and Johnson had to be pushed to pit row by race officials.

Track rules gave Johnson’s crew two caution laps to correct the problem and they did just that. However, the 76 Freedom Car was relegated to the back of the 21-car starting grid – a far cry from the car’s original starting spot on the outside of the third row.

“It looked pretty grim at the start of the race,” Johnson said. “We knew we had a fast car, but starting from the back was going to be quite a challenge if we hoped to maintain out points status. To tell you the truth, I was not optimistic.”

Johnson’s pessimistic feelings were unfounded. Twenty-five laps later, he had scratched and clawed his way to a fifth-place finish. And the night bode more good news for the Team Johnson Motorsports crew. Two of the three cars ahead of Johnson in the series point competition had difficulties on the track. Not only did Johnson salvage Monday’s race, he in all probability will advance to third in the week’s point total.

“I guess we never really know what a race will bring to us,” Johnson said. “We started in a big hole tonight and we dug ourselves out. My crew kept cool, calm and collected in the face of adversity and it paid off for us. I owe our success tonight to the crew.”

Johnson hopes to get his fourth top-five finish tonight when he starts from the pole position.