Danica's Not Alone: Three Other Women to Watch in NASCAR-Part 1

Posted by imelda sovzky on Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Danica Patrick
(photo - Wiki Commons)
With Danica-mania peaking around the Super Bowl, and now as the Daytona 500 comes into focus and just a few weeks away, it's worthy of noting Danica is not alone when it comes to women to watch in NASCAR.  This is the first of two segments about these women.  In addition to Danica, there is Johanna Long, Leilani Munter and Maryeve Dufault.  

Sure Danica Patrick has created a lot of buzz for the sport and fans love her personality as well as student approach to gaining entrance into the stock car world of NASCAR.  And yes, she also brings with her some controversy with the recent points-swap deal between Stewart-Haas Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing. But let's face it, most of the time, it's controversy that gets everyone talking and creating the buzz around any sport. 

Whatever, your opinion about Danica, there's an underlying feeling she just might surprise many this year.  Besides all the hype around her sponsorship and marketing prowess, she has taken a rather thoughtful approach to her transition to NASCAR by running part-time before coming into the Nationwide series full-time, and she's doing the same with the Cup series this year as a part-time driver. Danica has made it clear she considers herself a student and like a sponge, she's been soaking in all she can in preparing for the remainder of her racing career. 

She also has a lot of confidence and is comfortable with the concept of promotion. And promotion is a part of what makes this and many sports thrive. When Danica says, she feels as though she has as much chance as anyone else to win the Daytona 500, and it's her first race in the series, people listen and that...is the point.*

As a fans of racing, we may be in store for some historic moments from the women of racing this season!

Johanna Long
(photo - Wikipedia)
Johanna Long is another racer for fans to watch this year as she makes her way into the nationwide series without as much hype and media frenzy.  As many racers, Johanna's love of racing began early in her life. From the young age of five, she was watching her father race the tracks of the southeast in the now defunct, NASCAR All Pro Division. 

Fans in the southeast knew of Johanna Long way before she came to NASCAR, as Johanna's accomplishments were newsworthy not just because she's female but because of her age as well.  At the age of 15, Long became the youngest and first female to win the Five Flags Speedway track championship in Pro Late Models.  

As Johanna's career progressed there were times she would edge out her father for wins as they raced together and competitively.  Fans will get a feel for Johanna's love for racing from her website as they describe her inspiration from her father in setting her goal to race...
"In the years since, "Jo" has not only accomplished that goal, she's done it in ways that few racers - male or female - have ever done before.
Johanna's story is highlighted by wins on some of the toughest proving grounds in all of short track racing, but the smiling face, upbeat attitude and competitive spirit that mesh together inside the car and out have Jo's racing future looking bright."
Johanna Long's racing career has been bright indeed! She won the Gulf Coast Championship in 2008, in 2009, she began her transition to NASCAR in several lower-tier series. In 38 races her accomplished record shows, 27 top-tens, 17 top-fives, and 5 wins. In 2010 she won the Snowball Derby, becoming only the second female with this accomplishment. The last female winner at the Snow Ball Derby was Tammy Jo Kirk in 1994. The same year Johanna was suppose to run only three races in the Camping World Truck series, but ended up running in seven. Her season highlight was qualifying ninth at Texas Motor Speedway. 

Johanna wanted to run the full 2011 season in Camping World Truck series but sponsorship woes forced her to run a partial schedule. Her highlight last season was finishing eleventh, also at Texas Motor Speedway.

This year fans will see Johanna in the Nationwide series competing for Rookie of the Year honors. She'll be racing for her family-owned team, ML Racing in the #70 car.  Fans have a lot to look forward to with Johanna showing herself to be a racer's racer. Johanna may be a blip on fan's radar at this point, but somehow's there's a feeling she'll make headlines on the track in 2012.  

*To learn more about Danica's racing career, read Has Danica earned her seat in NASCAR's changing world? also within this site. 

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