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June 21, 2012  |   By Johanna Long

Johanna Long: All Access

Welcome to my first blog entry for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’m excited to be given the opportunity to write about my experiences so far in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as well as my journey leading up to the Indy 250 with ML Motorsports. This year has been filled with many first time experiences, challenges and tons of excitement and I couldn’t be more eager to share it with all of you.

I’ll give you all a quick background of my career so far in racing. My dad raced Late Models when I was a little girl, so I grew up around the sport and absolutely loved everything about it. I started begging my dad to put me in a go-kart when I was five, but it took a few years of convincing him before he would give me a shot behind the wheel. When I turned eight, my dad took me to a go-kart track in Baker, FL which was a mistake on his part because I was NOT leaving without a go-kart or some type of agreement that he would let me race. He finally gave in and from that point forward I started racing and I haven’t turned back since.

My dad moved me up to the Late Model series at age 14, and by the time I was 17, I had many wins and a couple of championships under my belt. When I turned 18, my dad started his own NASCAR truck team to give me that final opportunity to reach my long-time dream of making it to the elite level, but with limited funding it was extremely tough to get to the track week in and week out so we ended up doing a partial schedule in 2011. Over the offseason, I was unsure about my future in racing because our family team was only promised five races. Then, I was introduced to Mary Louise Miller, team owner of Warsaw, Indiana based NASCAR team, ML Motorsports. We both had similar goals and were eager to pave the way for women in racing, so we hit it off really well.

My dream of racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series became a reality over the offseason as I signed with ML Motorsports to a 21-race schedule for the 2012 season. It was an awesome feeling to have someone believe in me enough to give me this opportunity. Growing up, I never imagined that I would be 20 years old racing at this level with the most talented drivers in the world at amazing tracks like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It has been a huge learning curve considering this is my rookie year. It has been all about learning the Nationwide Series cars as well as the tracks that I’ve never been to.  My main objectives are to learn and gain as much seat time and experience that I possibly can, while proving that I belong in this series. It’s extremely important to me as a driver to gain respect from my fellow competitors, the media and fans. So far, I feel like I’m gaining that respect one race at a time, which is rewarding in itself.

I’m now nine races into my season, and I feel pretty optimistic about my performances and future races. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not content with where I’m currently at, but I feel like our team continuously progresses at each race that we attend and we are anxious to continue that momentum.

I hope you all have enjoyed reading my first blog. I can write for days, but I will stop and save some of my thoughts for next week’s blog. I will call this entry my “Intro Blog.” My next blog will be all about my experiences and challenges so far in the Nationwide Series as well as my quest leading up to the Indy250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I don’t know about you all, but I’m getting EXCITED! 

-Johanna