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Thursday, April 18, 2013
I had a blast at charity softball game

By Johanna Long

Johanna Long
What do drivers do during an off week? This time Johanna Long dusted off her glove and played catcher in a charity softball game.

After being on the road for the past month traveling to and from races, this week has been all about rewinding, relaxing, focusing on next week’s race in Richmond, as well as having a little fun.

I had the opportunity to relive my childhood by playing softball Wednesday night for a great cause in the NHRA vs. NASCAR charity softball game at Kannapolis, N.C. The Kurt Busch Foundation and the Armed Forces Foundation put on the game for our troops.

Kurt Busch, Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth were among my NASCAR teammates. Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown and Courtney Force were on the winning NHRA side. They clobbered us 19-5, but it was a lot of fun. It was an honor to participate with fellow drivers to help support the true heroes of our country.

I’m not going to exaggerate or try to make myself look good -- I was definitely not the star on the softball team when I first played at our local ballpark at the age of 8. It didn’t take me long to realize softball was not my calling.

So, when I first got the invite to participate in the charity event, I made sure I dusted off my gloves and bat and got a lot of practice in. However, I can’t say the practice sessions benefited me much, if at all!

All in all, the event went extremely well, not only for the players, but I’m pretty sure the spectators enjoyed it as much as we did. I know they at least got in a good laugh or two because it was a pretty good comedy show.

Busch and his girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, do a lot for our troops, and it was a true honor to be a part of this charity game. I had a blast.

The rest of this week most likely will go by slowly because I’m already antsy and ready to get back in the race car. Off weekends can be good at times, but I won’t complain one bit if I could race every weekend.

I will be back in the seat a week from Friday at Richmond International Raceway, and then the ML Motorsports team will head to Talladega Superspeedway the following weekend. I’m really looking forward to those races. Our team has a good shot of having strong finishes at both.

Richmond is a half-mile track, which is what I grew up racing on, so I’m extremely excited to get back to my roots of short-track racing. Talladega is the complete opposite, a two-mile superspeedway.

These two tracks are so different, but for some reason I take a strong liking to both. Out of all the tracks the No. 70 team will race at this year, these two are among my favorites.

I’m really excited to get back to racing, and I’m hopeful we can secure two strong finishes. Stay tuned for updates!