NASCAR’s 2 female drivers not rivals – or friends
Johanna, meet Danica. Danica, Johanna.
Danica Patrick and 19-year-old rookie Johanna Long, NASCAR’s two
female drivers, compete on the race track in an otherwise
male-dominated sport. Someday they might even get acquainted.
”I haven’t really met her,” Long said Friday at Talladega
Superspeedway. ”We see each other around the driver
(introductions) and we see each other but we haven’t really
Patrick said she knew little about Long other than that ”she
has a lot of strong qualifying runs.”
”She’s a really young girl and she just needs to keep at it,”
said Patrick, who makes her Talladega debut in Saturday’s
Nationwide Series race.
Long fields plenty of questions about the more experienced
driver simply because of what they do share: gender. Patrick, who
turned 30 in March, raced in IndyCar and stars in commercials.
Long’s claim to fame might be winning the 2010 non-NASCAR Snowball
Derby in her hometown of Pensacola, Fla.
She gives a sheepish ”No” when asked if she considers Patrick
Patrick, after all, is an IndyCar veteran who’s already an
established name. Long is still a teenager trying to steer toward a
sustained career, with the appropriate humility.
”I really don’t like comparing myself to anyone else,” Long
said. ”I’m just another driver out there in a 43-car field.
”I’m trying to build my fan base just like everybody
Patrick will start 17th in Saturday’s race, seven spots ahead of
Long. Because of a qualifying rainout, those slots were set by
Patrick hasn’t done `Dega but she has raced four times at
Daytona International Speedway, recording a top-10 finish and twice
finishing among the top 15 while leading a total of 16 laps at the
other restrictor plate track.
She won the pole in this season’s opening Nationwide race in
Daytona, but was caught up in a first-lap wreck.
Patrick figures the even-broader track at Talladega will make
for plenty of excitement with some four- and even five-wide
”That’s probably going to make it even more exciting,” she
said. ”You’re going to see a lot more moving around even, if
that’s even possible coming from Daytona.”
Patrick was already enjoying the atmosphere of the weekend-long
party in Talladega’s famed infield, sporting a necklace of large,
multicolored beads in the media center.
”When I talked about coming to Talladega, it’s just as much of
an excitement level for me to see the fans and get a feel for the
atmosphere as it is for driving the car,” Patrick said. ”The
atmosphere is something really unique. It’s definitely one of those
tracks that I was looking forward to coming to for more reasons
than racing. It’s going to be fun.
”I’ve already got my beads, so what next? More beads?”