Q&A with Patrick Long
Q: How did stints with Petersen/White Lightning, Flying Lizard, Tafel and others in the American Le Mans Series prepare you for this phase of your career?
A: That was the main part of my development as a driver. Being there specifically with the Petersen/White Lightning guys for two years and achieving such great results was huge. They also helped me win at Le Mans for the first time in 2004. I've also had success with the Lizards and people like Kevin Buckler and The Racer's Group during my first full season in 2004. They took a chance on me.
My opportunities for 2008 really came thanks to Tafel and Flying Lizards at Sebring and on the street circuits this year. Those performances were huge chances for me to show the skills that I have been developing over five years. What's on my horizon is sports car racing and winning as many races as I can. Indianapolis holds a special place in my heart but I have plenty to chew on right now.
Q: What impact do you think an American driving for Roger Penske in a factory car will have?
A: I'm proud to support and represent the US full-time. But I've never seen myself being an American driver and having opportunities created by that. I've always seen myself as being the best driver I can be and letting that talk.
Q: Did you learn throughout the season or at Petit Le Mans that you may be making the move to Penske or did you consider it more of an audition?
A: It wasn't on my mind. I was aware of Ryan (Briscoe) and Sam (Hornish) and their potential moves and what that meant as far as an opening in the RS Spyder program. There is so much that goes into selecting a driver in a Porsche prototype effort. My goal is to do my best in every single session in every single race. There was never any discussion or promises made by Porsche. Fans would always ask me about it, but I've always let my driving to the talking. I never thought it was my position or mine to gain. It was one of those things where I saw my name on the news releases but I didn't think it was a reality. Honestly, it still hasn't really hit me yet!
Q: You have often spoken about Danny Sullivan, Bobby Rahal, Kenny Brack and many others being career influences. Where do you think Roger Penske fits in?
A: Naturally, he's a huge hero of mine. Any young racing driver from the US knows who Roger Penske is. I've started to realize what he's about, and that's winning. There is so much going on in motorsport these days, but racers like Roger are the ones who are passionate. It's a thrill to be working inside his effort. I really look forward to learning from his success. He's on the radio with us and he's even there coaching us during driver changes. He knows everyone's name from the tire carrier to the engineer. It's one of those things that we're all wanting to do one thing, and that's win.