After lack of sponsorship cut short a bid to race at Daytona in February, Johanna Long is preparing to make her first Xfinity Series start in nearly 1 ½ years this weekend.
Affarano Motorsports announced that Long will attempt to qualify and race in Friday’s Toyota Care 250 at Richmond International Raceway.
It will be Long’s first Xfinity race since the 2013 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“When I first approached Johanna about driving for us, we sat down and discussed what tracks we felt she could best perform at, and Richmond was one of the ones at the top of the list,” team owner Mike Affarano said in a media release.
Although her name is not on the official entry list released Monday, a team spokesman confirmed to NASCAR Talk that Long and the team definitely will be at Richmond this weekend.
Long, who will turn 23 on May 26, has four career Xfinity starts at Richmond with a career-best of 15th in the spring 2013 race at the .750-mile track.
“I can’t wait to get back to the track,” Long said in a media release. “Mike (team owner Mike Affarano) and everyone at Affarano Motorsports has worked so hard to get the cars ready.
“Everything’s in place except the sponsorship. Hopefully, we’ll have a strong run and people will see how much potential this team has and will come on board to sponsor us.”
Long has made 41 career starts in the Xfinity Series: 21 in 2012 and 20 in 2013. She sat out the 2014 season.
She also has 24 career starts in the Camping World Truck Series, dating back to the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
“I am confident Johanna will be competitive,” Affarano continued. “She has a very loyal and supportive fan base that is anxious to see her back in the series.”
Because of sponsorship challenges, it’s unclear how many starts Long will make after this weekend’s race.
“In an ideal situation, Johanna would’ve opened the season in Daytona and we’d be running for points,” Affarano said. “However, since we were unable to secure the sponsorship we needed, we’ve been forced to be very selective of which races to compete in.”
With her return, Long will get attention not only from her loyal fan base, Affarano said she’ll be hard to miss on the racetrack.
“As far as I know, she’ll be the only one driving in a hot pink Chevy Camaro,” Affarano said.