Disappointing Early End to Johanna Long’s Strong Da y at Dover

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 16, 2011) – Johanna Long finished 22nd in her first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Dover International Speedway on Friday afternoon. Long led the first laps of her NCWTS career and was poised for her top finish of the year before the driveshaft broke on her No. 20 Panhandle Grading & Paving Toyota Tundra.

On Thursday, Long took to the track for her very first laps on the banked concrete mile. She ended the first practice session in 31st but improved in the second session, laying down the 27th fastest lap. Long continued to improve steadily over the weekend as she worked with former NCWTS champion Johnny Benson to learn the Monster Mile.

The 18-year-old driver qualified 21st in Friday morning’s qualifying session, with a time of 23.517 seconds. Long lost a few spots in the beginning laps of the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover as she radioed to the team that her truck was loose handling but rolled steadily through the corners. As the second caution flag waved on lap 45, Long brought her No. 20 Panhandle Grading & Paving Toyota to pit road for four tires and fuel. Long restarted in 18th position on lap 50.

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On lap 54, Long’s truck made contact with Miguel Paludo’s truck. Having no damage, Long pitted for fuel. As the race continued, she improved her lap times, driving into the top 20 before a lap 72 caution. After pitting for tires and fuel, the young driver restarted in the 19th position.

She moved into the top 15 on lap 125 and eventually up to the fourth-place position by lap 145. She went on to lead two laps before relinquishing track position on lap 152, pitting under green flag conditions for fuel and two tires. In spite of a caution flag waving as she completed her pit stop, Long would find herself in 12th-place on the lap 159 restart.

Long’s truck fought an ill-handling condition, leading to another stop on lap 177 for four tires and fuel. She restarted in 15th position on lap 182 and continued to race in the top 15 until lap 191 when the driveshaft on her Toyota Tundra broke, ending the team’s day a few laps short of the race finish. She registered a 22nd-place result.

Johanna Long and the Panhandle Racing team will return to the track this Friday, May 20, in her first NCWTS race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The race will air on Speed, with coverage beginning at 8 pm EDT.

Johanna Long Quote:

“Logging laps and getting used to the track was huge considering that this was my first time at Dover. The truck was a little tight during the first half of the race, but the guys worked really hard all day to get it where it needed to be. We were running in the top 15 and I really thought we were going to have a great finish until the driveshaft broke. We will keep the momentum that we have built from Dover and move on to Charlotte. I want to thank all of my guys for preparing a great truck and Johnny Benson for showing me the ropes at Dover; he helped me out tremendously.”

About Johanna Long:

At 18 years old, Johanna Long is the youngest driver in the elite NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. After making several starts in the NCWTS in 2010, Long plans to run the complete schedule in 2011 for family-owned Panhandle Motorsports. She began racing at the age of eight, quickly moving from go-karts to Legends cars to a Late Model. She made history, becoming the youngest driver and only female to win a track championship at Five Flags Speedway. She went on to win the prestigious Snowball Derby at the track in 2010. For more information on Johanna, please visit www.JohannaLong.com.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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