Circle Track Featured Stock Car — 22 February 2013

Johanna Long ESPNW: I’m pumped and ready to race at Daytona

Johanna Long, Daytona, Nationwide, NASCAR

After weeks and weeks of anticipation, I have finally made it to Daytona for the start of the 2013 NASCAR season. The green flag drops over Daytona International Speedway on Saturday for the DRIVE4COPD 300 Nationwide Series race. This girl is ecstatic!

Don’t get me wrong, every race is exciting and I feel just as blessed any time I have the opportunity to get into a race car, but there is something extra special about racing at Daytona.

As a little girl, I always dreamed of racing at this historic track, but never in a million years did I think I would actually get the opportunity. Thanks to a special lady who has taken a chance on me, my team owner Mary Louise Miller, I get to suit up Saturday for one of the biggest races of the year.

For those of you who have watched NASCAR racing at Daytona, you probably already know about the speeds, drafting and, of course, all of the three-wide and four-wide action that takes place. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, just imagine yourself in a car reaching a speed of 180 mph-plus and then being nose to tail with the cars in front and behind you. Not only do you have cars riding your bumper while pushing you through the corners, but there’s a good possibility you either have two cars above you, below you or you are sandwiched in the middle. It gets pretty intense.

That’s what I love about racing, though. The high-intensity, adrenaline rush that I get from driving a race car is like no other. Everyone has a happy place; well, I consider racing my heaven.

I feel pretty confident in myself and the ML Motorsports team going into this weekend’s race. At this track, it’s all about racing smart, staying out of trouble and having a little luck on your side in order to be in a good position at the end of the race. If we can do that, I see a strong top-10 finish for the ML Motorsports team, which would give us momentum going into the 2013 season.

For me, this season is all about continuing the process of proving myself as a driver. I feel like this is my chance to prove myself and continue to make it known that I belong in this sport. The 2012 season was a good start for me as far as learning the ropes and getting experience in the Nationwide Series, however, this year I’m hungrier than ever for stronger runs and finishes.

My goal is to race competitively in the top-10 and top-15 regularly. My team has been working extremely hard in the shop over the offseason to prepare fast cars, so there’s no doubt in my mind that once I hit the track at Daytona, we’re going to have a strong No. 70 Chevrolet.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pumped and ready to race at Daytona.

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