Gearing up for one more race

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

After a stuck clutch ended her day early at Texas, Johanna Long is determined for a better result in her last race.

Whew! It’s hard to believe our season is almost over. It seems like just yesterday we were all headed down to Daytona to get started.

We have 33 races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series season, which leaves a lot of room for ups and downs. Each of those 33 races comes with a different set of challenges -- the competitors, the track and yourself.

One of the ups recently was at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October. Charlotte is where most of the race teams are based, so we have the opportunity to have our friends and family come out and cheer us on. It’s also a track where I feel very comfortable. We had a solid performance there this time around [finishing 17th], so I was pleased.

Things don’t always go your way, however. The last race we had was at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, and I was pumped to get back into the car after two weekends off on the schedule. After working throughout the weekend with practice sessions, we felt set for the big race on Saturday.

Unfortunately, it did not go as planned. My clutch pedal -- the pedal I use to change gears -- stuck during the race, causing us to end it early.

My team -- composed of about 20 people and myself -- works really hard each and every week to get prepared to come to the racetrack, so it is heartbreaking when something like this happens.

Life, like racing, is full of ups and downs, but I have learned over the years it’s not about what happens -- it’s about how you respond to it.

So, I’m going to keep going. I’m going to keep learning. I’m going to keep fighting. And above all, I’m going to strive to be the best driver I can be.

My next race is the final one in our season. And you can believe we’re going to do everything we can to end on a high note.