2009 has been a banner year for Johanna Long. The 17-year-old female driver from Pensacola, Florida has quickly jumped into the limelight and hit the ground running with her success in the Super Late Model racing world. Long’s storybook season now has another chapter after the second-generation driver dominated the third leg of the Blizzard Series at Five Flags Speedway in the USA Digital 100. Long won the pole and led the most laps, scoring the dominant victory, which was her second triumph in three Blizzard Series races at the half-mile track in Pensacola, Florida this season.
“It feels wonderful,” said Long in victory lane. “When I won my first race it was just a big confidence booster because when you race the Blizzard Series, you are running against the best Super Late Model drivers.”
Her second-career win in the Blizzard Series was a very popular victory for the fans. The crowd roared to life and victory lane was almost like a mob scene as countless people wanted to congratulate the young racer on her victory. To Long, however, all the success and accolades are parts of the dream that she’s wanted to live for so many years.
“This is what I have always wanted to do,” said Long. “My dad (noted short track racer Donald Long) said I could choose to do this if I wanted to and it’s been great and I totally love it. He has done so much for me. Between him and (Crew Chief) Freddie Query, I just can’t thank them enough. They have done so much for me.”
Bubba Pollard drove a smart race in the USA Digital 100 and finished second to Long. Pollard had a few good restarts late in the race, but was unable to keep up with her in the closing laps. With the finish, Pollard maintains the lead in the Blizzard Series.
“(Johanna) had a real good car tonight,” said Pollard. “I thought we had a good car, but she had a better car tonight. She was really beating us up off the corner. We’ll just have to do our homework for next time.”
Former Snowball Derby winner Eddie Mercer was a strong contender all night as well. He won the race off pit road after a lap 60 caution and led for 16 laps before he broke loose off the second turn. Long got a piece of Mercer, which resulted in Mercer’s number-1 machine spinning out of the lead. Despite the contact, Mercer had no ill feelings about the situation.
“I was in the way, that’s what happened,” joked Mercer. “She bumped a little bit. I am not mad at her. She was faster then me and I was hoping we could get away, the two of us. But things don’t always work out the way you want. She had an awesome racecar. I don’t have any hard feelings. I have a lot of respect for her and her family.”
Johanna offered her take on what ended up as minor incident when the dust settled.
“I got to him pretty quickly after the restart,” explained Long. “I almost had him one time down low and coming off the corner I got back into the gas a little bit quicker then he did. I am glad he’s not mad about it. Those things will happen it was just a racing deal.”
David Rogers, Augie Grill and Steven Davis rounded out the top five. Sixth through 10th-place finishers were Scott Carlson, Stephan McCurley, Mercer, Jeff Fultz and Casey Smith.
Round four of the five-race Blizzard Series will take place on Friday, August 7th at Five Flags Speedway.
The five Blizzard Series and five Miller Lite Series events at Mobile Int’l Speedway will make up the “Gulf Coast Championship” Series, where drivers competing at both tracks are eligible for bonuses at the end of the season.
For more information, about Five Flags Speedway, the Blizzard Series or the 42nd Annual Snowball Derby, please visit www.5flagsspeedway.com or contact the track by calling (850) 944-8400.
Five Flags Speedway (FL)
USA Digital 100
Blizzard Series Round 3
1 10 Johanna Long 100
2 26 Bubba Pollard 100
3 11 David Rogers 100
4 112 Augie Grill 100
5 1 Steven Davis 100
6 21 Scott Carlson 100
7 1S Stephan McCurley 100
8 1 Eddie Mercer 100
9 67 Jeff Fultz 100
10 99 Casey Smith 100
11 82 Donnie Wilson 100
12 48 Cecil Chunn 100
13 1 Tim Martin 100
14 99 Wayne Niedecken Jr. 100
15 17 Chris Gabehart 100
16 05 Jeremy Colangelo 100
17 10 Danny Bagwell 100
18 6 Hunter Robbins 100
19 18 Brandon Harris 100
20 25 Rocky Boyd 44
21 02 Matt Smith 25
22 2 John Bolen 14