James V. Carroll

Bad end to a good week for Johnson

American Legion 76 Freedom Car driver Jerick Johnson started and ended at the back of the 16-car field Friday in the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway near Daytona, Fla. It wasn’t how he envisioned it prior to the race.

“We’re four points out of second place in World Series points and we trail the leader by 28 points,” Johnson said. “If everything falls into line we could leave here tonight the points champion. That would be the perfect end to a great week of racing.”

Nothing fell into line. To start, the American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car failed a first pass through pre-qualification inspection. By the time the crew made the required corrections to the car, Johnson was relegated to the back of the qualification line. He qualified 15th and started the race in the back row.

“It was down hill, or should I say up hill, from the start,” Johnson said. “I climbed four spots before the 5 Car spun me in the first turn. And a couple of laps later, the 26 Car spun in front of me and I couldn’t avoid him. A tie rod snapped and that was it for the night.”

It was a successful week for the 76 Freedom Car, despite the inauspicious conclusion. Johnson finished fourth or better in his six previous races and finished third in the Crate Late Model division at the World Series.

“We had three fourth-place finishes, two third-place finishes and a second-place finish,” Johnson said. “All we didn’t get was a first-place. A championship was not out of the question but in the end we didn’t do what we needed to do.”

Johnson and crew loaded the halers Saturday and headed home to Mooresville, N.C., to prepare for a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Race March 26 at Greenville Pickens Speedway, located in Greenville, S.C. It will be the Freedom Car’s first appearance at the track.