Looking for a change, Johanna Long readies for Nationwide debut

Long readily awaits her 2012 NASCAR Nationwide debut.
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Skirts and Scuffs has been closely following Johanna Long since her NASCAR debut in 2010; it is only natural that we decided to follow-up with her on her latest announcement. On Jan. 5, it was announced that Long signed with ML Motorsports to drive the No. 70 car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series through 2013.

Long is set for a 21-race schedule this season. (The team makes the No. 70 available to others during those off races so financially they are able to keep racing.)

I spoke to Long fresh off of her first test in a Nationwide car and the excitement was obvious as we chatted. “I am really excited about everything. Testing went really well,” said Long.

Taking laps at Walt Disney World Speedway in her new No. 70 car.
Credit. Johanna Long Official Fan page

“I adapted really fast and was excited with everything on that level of it. I worked really well with the guys and they made me feel like I was getting a hold of that. It’s just going to be a great year and I am really excited,” an exuberant Long said.

Long  spent the past two seasons racing part-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, with a best finish of 11th at Texas Motor Speedway in June. The decision to move to Nationwide came after Long and her father were actively seeking out fresh opportunities for her after financial struggles plagued her NCWTS team.

“This is a great opportunity and something I have been looking for my whole life,” said Long of her new ride with ML Motorsports.

With one test complete, just days after signing on the dotted line, Long is already confident and ready to go for the 2012 season. No further tests are planned at this time as the team feels that Long has adapted to the car so well. 

“I think jumping from a late model to a truck was really difficult for me for the last two years. I got so much experience with the truck that it now has helped me transition into the Nationwide car. I have been driving cars all my life and this just feels right.”

As she eases into the Nationwide Series, Long has David Green atop the spotter stand to encourage her. Green has 400 Nationwide starts and plenty of experience to coach Long as she navigates the new roads ahead.
Johanna and David Green atop the hauler during testing.
Credit: Johanna Long Official Fan page 
“We hit it off, it was awesome,” Long said of working with Green during testing, “I learned lots just talking to him for 15 minutes. When I got out on the track, he was able to help me out a lot with different lines to use, if I should pick it up, or just telling me I did a good job. He is great and I am really looking forward to working with him this year.”

As for Johanna and what she is most looking forward to this season, “running the Nationwide Series. It is highly competitive, a great series and just working with ML Motorsports. It is going to be a great year.”

With Johanna Long only being 19 years old, she has her sights set firmly on her role models. When I asked who she set her career path after, she replied, “No one is particular, but the Cup Series drivers because that is where I want to be one day.”

In an interview last week with Skirts and Scuffs, ML Motorsports team owner Mary Louise Miller stated her dreams for her team. Much like Johanna's dreams, the Sprint Cup series is involved.

“Of course we would love to be in Sprint (Cup) that is Johanna’s and my hope and dream. That is a lot of money! You need a large sponsorship because everything you do you need transporters for, extra crew, it’s a big expense. We feel that with Johanna and what she is going to bring to our team, that is a better possibility then it has been before,” Miller said.

Long’s reply to that boost of confidence from Miller: “Mrs. Mary Louise is really nice and I am so glad that everything worked out for me to join her team. I am really happy to be driving for her and that she has given me this wonderful opportunity, it means a lot to me. This is what I have been working for my whole racing career. It just means so much, I cannot thank her enough!” 

With the 2012 season just a few shorts weeks away, Long already has goals in mind for her first season. “… Be as prepared as I can be, work with the crew guys, get all the experience I can and just run really hard. Hopefully I can finish in the top 20 every week.”

Amanda Ebersole brings the readers of Skirts and Scuffs interviews and insight into the people who make NASCAR the sport we all love. Besides interviews, Amanda also writes her weekly columns In the Rearview Mirror and NASCAR By the Numbers. Feel free to contact Amanda via Twitter or e-mail.
Looking for a change, Johanna Long readies for Nationwide debut Looking for a change, Johanna Long readies for Nationwide debut Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, January 16, 2012 Rating: 5