It's been a little more than a month since the last round of the Blizzard Super Late Model Series at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida and a lot has changed since that time for hometown driver, and 2009 Blizzard Series champion, Johanna Long.
In the past three weeks, Johanna Long made the first two starts of her NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career - qualifying for both events in the top 20. She finished 17th and gained plenty of experience in her debut at O'Reilly Raceway Park near Indianapolis (IN) but got caught in a wreck not of her doing last weekend at Nashville Superspeedway (TN). Long also competed in the USARacing Pro Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway in between those two truck starts.
Now, Long is getting back into familiar territory by racing her Super Late Model in front of her hometown fans at Five Flags Speedway - and she couldn't be happier.
“Everyone has been so supportive and that is just awesome,” said Long. “Everyone has been there for me and watching the races on television, so that really makes me want to get back racing in front of them at Five Flags.”
The possibility of running up front again in a series where she has won races before is also something that Long is looking forward too.
“I'm really excited,” said Long. “The last time [in the Super Late Model], we finished up the weekend with a second-place finish in Mobile. I'm ready to get back to Pensacola and I think we'll be good for the races.”
Currently, Long sits in the third position of the Blizzard Series point standings. If she wants to repeat as the series champion, she'll need to close the 63-point gap between her and Chase Elliott this Friday night. Long isn't giving up hope of catching the point leader though.
“It's going to be really hard, so I need to keep doing what I'm doing,” said Long. “The key is that we need to win races and go out and do the best we can.”
On that note, Long's team will rely on a combination of new tricks and proven set-ups for this week's race.
“We'll try a couple of things to get a little bit better. We messed up a few things last time at Pensacola, so we'll try a few things in practice on Thursday and hopefully get the car tuned in a little bit better.”
Long will have to deal with the best of the best in the Super Late Model world with the likes of two-time Snowball Derby winner Augie Grill, Miller Lite Series champion Bubba Pollard, former All American 400 winner Mike Garvey, former Winchester 400 winner Ryan Lawler, 2005 Snowball Derby Winner Eddie Mercer, former Blizzard Series Champion Josh Hamner, Super Late Model youngster Chase Elliott and Gulf Coast Championship Point leader Jeff Fultz all expected at Friday's race.
Qualifying for the Miller Lite 100 will begin at 6:45pm, with the feature events set to take the green flag at 8pm. The Modifieds, Sportsmen, and Bomber divisions will also hit the Five Flags half-mile.
Fans unable to attend the Five Flags Blizzard Series' event can hear it live on RaceTalkRadio.com, presented by Speed 51 Radio. The five Blizzard Series' and five Miller Lite Series' events at Mobile International Speedway will make up the Sunoco Gulf Coast Championship series, where drivers competing at both tracks are eligible for overall Championship
For more information about Five Flags Speedway, the Miller Lite 100 or the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby, please visit www.5flagsspeedway.com or contact the track by calling (850) 944-8400.