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Fender To Fender: An Exclusive Interview With Nationwide Series Rookie Johanna Long

Johanna Long Takes a moment to herself during practice for the Nationwide Series race in Bristol. Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR.

By: Toby Christie – Follow on Twitter @Tobalical

Chances are if you’re a NASCAR fan, you know who Johanna Long is by now. But just in case you’ve been living under a rock I’ll get you up to speed. The 19-year-old (soon to be 20) is quickly moving up the NASCAR ranks, and is currently in the middle of her rookie season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Long drives for ML Motorsports, and was the first-ever female winner of the Snowball Derby, which is one of the most — if not the most — prestigious short track race in the country. Johanna will be out of action for the next two weeks as her No. 70 team is only set to run 21 of the 33 races this year, but she was kind enough to take time away from seeing family and friends in Florida to have an exclusive interview with Sicknissified.com.

TC: Where are you right now compared to where you expected yourself to be at this point in your rookie Nationwide Series season?

JL: It’s extremely hard. Everyone in the Nationwide Series, they’re really fast. The competition is really hard, but I feel we are progressing every race. That’s the best thing for us. I feel like We’ve had a lot of good runs, and I feel like we’re just going to get better and better, and I feel like we’ve done really good so far this year.

Each race you go to, you’re going to get better. It’s just working with a new team and I haven’t been in these cars often. So it’s just about learning it, and learning what I want in the car.

TC: You’ve done a great job at taking care of your equipment so far this season. To this point you have completed a lot of laps, and outside of Talladega you have been running at the finish of every race. Is this crucial to overcoming your learning curve?

JL: It was horrible, we were running so good at Talladega, and I felt like we could have had a really really strong run and I felt that good about it, and I never really say that. I was just bump drafting a guy, and the nose caved in a bit and it was overheating. You can’t really help those situations, because you’re going 200 miles per hour and you can’t do much about it. When you come up on a guy that fast, it’s hard to check up and not get hit from behind so you have to do what you have to do there. It really stinks, we’ve finished a lot of laps this year and gotten a lot of experience, but that cut short Talladega for sure.

TC: Do you ever get sick of the comparisons to Danica Patrick based on your gender?

JL: It’s gonna happen, we can’t help that. But I don’t really focus on that. I focus on my racecar and how good I can make it. All that other stuff is going to come with it, but I don’t really pay attention to it.

TC: We compare most male drivers to others that have similar driving styles, but you get tagged — fairly or un-farily — with Danica. What driver would you actually most compare your driving style to?

JL: That’s a hard one. Let me think about that (laughter). I don’t know if I would compare my driving style to anyone. That’s hard you caught me in a bind there.

TC: You’ve got three top-20 finishes in your first six Nationwide Series starts, realistically do you see yourself as a consistent top-10 to top-15 finisher later this season?

JL: I feel like getting more experience is going to make us better as a team. And we’re going to start getting those better finishes, but I feel it’s all about progression. I feel like if we progress each and every week, it’s going to be a good year. We just gotta keep on doing that. Yeah you want some top-15 finishes, and you wanna do better each weekend, but it’s gonna come.  You know you just got to keep on progressing, and you’ll get them.

TC: I noticed one of your hobbies is skiing. That being said what is a bigger adrenaline rush: Skiing down slopes or racing fender to fender in NASCAR?

JL: Racing fender to fender in NASCAR for sure, it’s definitely intense. Skiing – I’m not really good at it. I like going, but I’m kind of dangerous on those slopes. I haven’t been in a while because I need my license right now for sure.

TC: Is there anything you’d like to say to your fans, and everyone who has supported you along your journey to this level in racing?

JL: I just want to thank everyone for following me since I was a little girl, and even following me now. It just means so much to me that I have an awesome fanbase like I do, and hopefully we keep on growing that. It’s really fun, and if you’re not following me on Twitter you can follow me @JOHANNALONG, I like to tweet a lot and I love to tweet everybody so I’d like to tweet everyone.

TC: I also noticed that at you have a new blog at your website that is pretty cool.

JL: Yeah, I like to do that. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s a lot of fun to do that and I hope everyone enjoys it. Everyone should check out my website at JohannaLong.com, and we just redesigned it so I feel like we’ve done a really good job on that.

TC: Last time I interviewed you, I noticed you using your phone in the garage area so I asked you what your ringtone was. Back then you said since you were at the racetrack you didn’t need a ringtone, now that you’re on an offweek — what’s your ringtone?

JL: What is my ringtone? It just rang this is so bad. You know that song that sounds like that pop song? That’s my ringtone. It’s pretty old school, but I like it.

– Toby Christie is the lead Motorsports writer for Sicknissified.com, and he can be reached via twitter or email. Tweet him @Tobalical or email him at tobalical@sicknissified.com.

Johanna Long drives the No. 70 Chevrolet for ML Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and can be reached on Twitter @JohannaLong or you can visit her website JohannaLong.com.

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Toby Christie is the Editor In Chief for DailyPitstop.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly radio show. Christie is a proud member of the NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) and has covered the sport of NASCAR since 2007. He can be reached via twitter or email. Tweet him @dailypitstop or email him at tobalical@sicknissified.com.

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