Photo by James V. Carroll
Christmas came early Saturday for driver Jerick Johnson and The American Legion/David Law Firm 76 Freedom Car team. Johnson charged through an early heat to capture a win and later finished eighth in the 35-lap Late Model feature at the one-third-mile Columbus Ohio Speedway.
The victory is the second checkered flag Johnson has collected this season as he won an earlier race in May at Newport Speedway in Tennessee. Overall, the Team Johnson Motorsports driver has 10 top-10 finishes, eight top-five races and two victories in 14 starts.
"I would say we had a pretty good night considering this is the first time we have raced at Columbus Speedway," Johnson said following the Late Model feature. "But it was touch and go a couple of times."
Johnson had the eighth fastest qualifying lap, but as a first-time driver at the track, he was relegated to start the feature race in the fifth row. A couple of times during the race it looked as though the 76 Freedom Car would not finish because it was involved in two spins in turn three. However, Johnson still managed to climb back to another top-ten finish.
"The night was billed as ‘Christmas in July' at the track," Johnson said. "And Santa was very generous to us tonight."
The weekend began with a rainout at a scheduled Motordrome race Friday night at Smithton, Pa., near Pittsburgh. Not happy that the team had traveled from Mooresville, N.C., for the Pennsylvania race, Johnson turned to the Internet. He learned that Late Models were racing Saturday at the Columbus Speedway and decided to head that way with the team.
"We were all pretty much disappointed Friday, but a win whereever we race sure picks up our spirits," Johnson said. "Clouds and rain ruined our Friday in Smithton, but we found a silver lining Saturday in Columbus."
The next race for the 76 Freedom Car is August 13 at Concord Speedway near Charlotte, N.C.