22-year-old did not compete in any NASCAR national series in 2014 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Mike Affarano Motorsports announced Wednesday that Johanna Long will drive for the team in select NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series events this season. Long is scheduled to make her debut in the No. 03 Chevrolet in the XFINITY Series opener, the Alert Today Florida 300 at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 21 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). "I'm grateful for the opportunity to race this season with Mike Affarano Motorsports," Long said in a statement provided by the team. "In a time when drivers are pressured to bring sponsorship money to teams in order to race, it was great to have my phone ring and be approached because of my talent." Long , a 22-year-old native of Pensacola, Florida, last competed in a NASCAR national series in 2013 with a 20-race schedule in what was then the NASCAR Nationwide (now XFINITY ) Series. Her best effort in her 41-race XFINITY career -- all spent with team owner Mary Louise Miller -- was 12th place on three occasions. Affarano's team will be making its first steps into the XFINITY ranks. The team added equipment from the former Turner Scott Motorsports organization in the offseason. "We are thrilled to have Johanna behind the wheel for 2015," Affarano stated. "She has such drive and determination that will represent our team well on and off the track, and we know she's great with attracting sponsors and fans. We're looking forward to growing and progressing as a company together this season." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Johanna Long and Danica Patrick polarize fans in the Nationwide Series. Hear what they have to say about each other.
Travis Pastrana and Landon Cassill get turned by Johanna Long
Johanna Long , Jamie Dick, and Sam Hornish Jr. wreck early at the Dollar General 200 at Phoenix.
Ricky Carmichael spins out of Turn 4 and collects Johanna Long .
Dillon, Suarez both looking for first Iowa win RELATED: Practice 2 results After running fourth in Friday's first practice, Ty Dillon topped the leaderboard in the second practice with an impressive fastest lap of 133.012 mph in 23.682 seconds. The No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet completed a total of 67 laps for the session. NASCAR XFINITY Series veteran Brendan Gaughan was second on the leaderboard for Friday's final practice session with his No. 62 Chevrolet coming in hot with a fastest lap of 132.704 mph in 23.737 seconds. T.J. Bell rounded out the top three with a lap of 131.871 mph (23.887 seconds). This weekend will mark the first time Bell has lined up for a NASCAR XFINITY Series race since 2012's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Next on the leaderboard was Drew Herring in his No. 6 Ford. Herring had a fastest lap of 131.519 mph (23.951). This will be his first NASCAR XFINITY appearance since 2013's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. And completing the top five for this session was Brian Scott in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with a lap of 131.403 mph. Daniel Suarez , who topped the first practice, finished ninth in the Friday night's practice (131.026 mph). The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver will be on the lookout for his fourth consecutive top-five finish this weekend at Iowa Speedway. Kenny Wallace , who will be competing in his last race in the series this weekend at Iowa, finished 15th. Wallace is looking for his 10th career win at Saturday's U.S. Cellular Presented by New Holland (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SiriusXM). NXS action continues Saturday with the Coors Light Pole Qualifying at 4:45 p.m. ET. RELATED: Practice 1 results Daniel Suarez topped the leaderboard in the NASCAR XFINITY Series opening practice on Friday at Iowa Speedway. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota posted a fastest lap of 133.367 mph. Next was fellow rookie Brandon Jones in his No. 33 Chevrolet with a fastest lap of 131.965 mph. Saturday's U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland marks Jones' second start in the XFINITY Series. His first race was at Iowa’s May race, the 3M 250 , where he finished eighth. Rounding out the first session's top three was Ben Rhodes . Rhodes had a fastest lap of 131.744 mph. Ty Dillon (131.546 mph) and Darrell Wallace Jr . (131.486 mph) came in fourth and fifth, respectively. XFINITY Series points leader, Chris Buescher finished practice in the seventh spot, posting a fastest lap of 130.332 mph. Johanna Long , finished 30th in the first session. This is Long's first 2015 appearance as she hasn't raced since 2013's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On-track action continues at 7 p.m. ET with the NASCAR XFINITY Series final practice on NBCSN. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Much like their fellow NASCAR drivers who are deservedly spending the season's final off-week relaxing on a beach or jet-setting to some exotic location, Landon Cassill and Josh Wise are using the rare downtime to travel and enjoy the scenic Austrian Alps. The difference, however, is that these two Sprint Cup drivers won't be sightseeing or taking leisurely day hikes. They will be experiencing one of the world's most beautiful regions while competing in the elite Ironman 70.3 World Championships at Zell am See-Kaprun outside Salzburg, Austria on Sunday. Their breathtaking views will be just that as they swim 1.2-miles in Lake Zell, bike 56 miles through the glacier-tipped Alps and then finish with a 13.1-mile run along the lakeshore and through the area's small villages in one of the world's most grueling and prestigious physical competitions. "When we looked at the schedule both of us had aspirations to qualify for the 70.3 or Kona (Ironman 140.6 in Hawaii)," explained Wise. "The Worlds happened to fall on our last off weekend and there was a qualifier on the next to last off weekend. "It looked like this is a once in a lifetime chance. It's a bucket list goal just to qualify, but to have opportunity to do Austria was super special and it just felt like it was meant to be." But not without a lot of work. Anyone who still dismisses the athletic ability of NASCAR drivers would have a losing argument when it comes to the training regimen of Cassill, 26, and Wise, 32, who have taken their dedication to fitness and competition to a new level. RELATED: Johnson: 'If you want to be fast, you've got to suffer' More often than not, these two drivers show up at the race track having already swam, biked or run for miles and hours before some of their competitors have even rolled out of bed. Their dedication and commitment means a 5 a.m. wake-up call even on race weekends and using a special "Swim Radar" app to find a public pool near the race track that's open early enough and will allow them to swim. They've done their laps everywhere from the small town YMCA to the pool at Ohio State University. They strategically place their long bike rides as well and that can be tricky -- both finding a safe route close to the track and "not getting lost," Wise joked. They did a 60-mile bike ride after qualifying at Indianapolis this summer and squeezed in a 20-miler between practices at Pocono. Last week at Bristol, the two swam a mile and a half and ran five miles before the night race. Cassill did his World Cup qualifier in Muncie, Ind. during NASCAR's Kentucky Speedway race weekend, flying to Muncie after the Friday night XFINITY race, competing in the 70.3-mile triathalon Saturday morning then returning to Kentucky Speedway for the Cup race that night. "That was a little test of endurance," Cassill said. "Saturday morning I got my qualifying slot and flew back and raced Saturday night (at Bristol). I felt pretty good." Both Cassill and Wise say that competitive spirit lift is an important motivation for both. Driving for small, lower-funded Sprint Cup Series teams, they are admittedly not contending for wins every week. Success in the triathalons not only is a huge fitness benefit to them both, but gives them a sense of accomplishment and success. "I think a big part of the inspiration to do this has to do with obviously with the benefit of what it does for us in the car, but for us, we drive for small teams and we don't have a chance to win every race in a car and when you're doing that for 38 weeks in a row, it can get taxing," said Cassill, the 2008 XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year who now drives the No. 40 Hillman-Smith Chevrolet in the Cup Series and the No. 01 JD Motorsports Chevy in the XFINITY Series. "This is something for us, we can control and it really just helps that confidence in the garage just to know what we're capable of with our bodies and pushing ourselves to the limit. To me, it's a confidence builder." Wise, who scored a career-best 10th at Talladega in May driving the No. 98 Ford, agreed. "It's an amazing competitive outlet," he said. "There's not a lot of things that you can do that you have so much control over. It goes back to the alarm clock. Are you going to get up and get the swim in and the running before you go to work? It's your choice. With the sport we're in, people don't realize all the external factors there are that you can't control." "When our cars aren't driving right or we're communicating with our crew in the midst of battling with someone, I feel the mental gain from the type of work we do off the track even beyond the physical. "I'm far beyond physically where I need to be, but mentally I can still continue to push myself, my body and my brain to dig deeper. When you can overcome every cell in your body shutting you down and you have to mentally force your legs to pick up and move in a run, there is a mental strength that comes from that. "I feel there's a real specificity to what we do that applies to our type of racing." The benefits go beyond just them personally. "My team has so much confidence in me that although they may not see me during the week, they don't have a doubt in their mind that I'm still working; that I’m trying to make myself the fittest race car driver, the best race car driver I can be, focused and prepared," Cassill said. "It's important because when teams are fighting for sponsorship, tough finishes the wheels can come off and you want to instill in your team that you're doing everything you can." Their pursuit is not only recognized by their team members but in the garage and bigger NASCAR community as well. While these two drivers don’t typically generate the same racing headlines as their good friend and frequent training partner, six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson , they do have his great respect -- especially with this weekend's Ironman in Austria. "My hat is off to Josh and Landon," Johnson said. "They've put in the hard work. I've watched them get very serious about it. They are both faster than me (smiling) and I'm so proud of them." All three drivers are confident that this kind of extreme cross training will be more prevalent on the starting grid in coming years. It's a visibly growing group of cyclists that join Johnson, Wise and Cassill on the bike rides during race weekend downtime or meet up at a nearby public pool for some laps. " Jimmie Johnson , in my opinion, sparked that fire by winning six championships and being the fittest driver the sport has ever seen," Cassill said. "We are in some ways just copycatting what he did. Eventually, a lot of the drivers that have the skill -- and have had the success in the past -- but aren't consistently getting the success now are going to start getting pressure from their owners and sponsors that will say they're sick of getting of their butts kicked from these fit drivers, you need to do something. "I think in the next five to 10 years you're going to see a lot more of our drivers getting fitter and fitter," Cassill continued. "I think our sport is going to go through similar transition that golf saw and I compare our sport to golf because it's a skill sport. It takes a certain skill and technique to swing a golf club and it takes a certain skill and technique to drive a race car. It doesn't necessarily take athleticism to drive a race car or hit a golf ball, but athleticism enhances that skill." This weekend Cassill and Wise will be representing their sport on a world platform and just qualifying for the world championship in the midst of a busy and demanding NASCAR season is already a huge accomplishment. "There are a lot of cyclists in the garage and people that know what's going on. I had a lot of people asking me about this weekend at the Bristol race and crew members wishing me good luck," Cassill said. "Obviously a lot of text messages from my team wishing me good luck." "I'd love to set a new PR (personal record), I feel like I try to do that at every race. But just another finish would be a win. This is a very challenging event and this is a world championship event so the competition is a lot tougher than I've competed against."
RELATED: Race results from Canada BOWMANVILLE, Ontario - Two weeks ago in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course , Alex Tagliani got turned out of the lead by Regan Smith and lost his shot at a win. Today in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park , Tagliani had a chance to be the one doing the turning. Heading into Turn 5B on the final lap, Tagliani says he was in a position to push Erik Jones aside and claim victory for himself. But he didn't. Instead, Tagliani held back as Jones cruised to his second win of the season and vaulted to the top of the NCWTS point standings. "If I would have stayed where I was he would have been gone in (Turn) 5B," Tagliani said. "I don't drive that way. I just want to continue the trend." Tagliani thought he would have time to take one more clean shot at Jones through the final series of turns, but a broken third gear took that chance away. "It shredded completely," he said. "It was pretty much good all race. I felt a couple of times it was kind of scratchy on the downshift, but no sign it was going to be bad. As soon as I put third gear on the back straight, it just went. "I put it in fourth and it just kind of limped all the way back home." The 19-year-old Jones felt the pressure from veteran road course racer Tagliani down the stretch, but maintained his concentration to become the first driver to lead the entire last lap of a NCWTS race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park . "It was a blast," Jones said of the race. "It was nerve-wracking. It's a little intense when you’ve got a guy like that running you down for 15 laps." It turned out that Jones and Tagliani had shared a parade truck before the race and had a philosophical discussion about racing with respect. Tagliani told Jones he knew he was in a heated points battle and that Jones didn’t have to worry about him trying the same thing Smith had done to him at Mid-Ohio. "We had a pretty long talk about racing people the way you want to be raced," Jones said. "I’ve never been one to want to move somebody to win a race, and he hasn't, either. It's nice to see that respect, especially from a veteran like that to me. "It's not something he had to do. It means a lot to me that he did." Jones worked hard to improve his road course craft coming into this weekend. Time spent at a pair of driving schools paid off, as did a strong effort by the team to improve their truck. "We had a good truck last year, and we were able to do some improving on our Tundra to get it to where it needed to be for this year," Jones said. "I was able to improve on myself and fix some of my mistakes this year as well and get a little bit better." Matt Crafton finished in second place, which keeps him second in the point standings behind Jones, who now holds a three-point advantage. Tyler Reddick , the standings leader entering the race, placed 19th and is now third (15 points behind Jones) in the championship hunt. Ben Kennedy , Daniel Hemric , and Tagliani rounded out the top five in Sunday's race. Cole Custer mounted one of the strongest challenges to Jones in the late going, but contact between he and Tagliani took him out of the running with 11 laps to go. He ended up in 10th.
Robert Richardson Jr. spins in an early wreck causing Johanna Long to lose control on the front stretch in the History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Austin Dillon has to dodge a stray wheel from Johanna Long's pit stall as he heads down pit road.