LONG'S SHOT: PORSCHE CONFIRMS AMERICAN TO PENSKE IN 2008

Porsche's lone American factory driver is set to return to the American Le Mans Series in 2008. Patrick Long will be part of the Penske Racing roster for the coming season and will pilot one of the team's two Porsche RS Spyders in LMP2. Long, 26, teamed with fellow factory mates Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas for a class win and runner-up overall finish at Petit Le Mans in October.

Now living in Tampa, Fla., Long has scored nine Series victories in just 34 starts and has at least one win in each of the last three seasons. He won the 2005 GT2 championship with Jorg Bergmeister at Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing, and was instrumental in helping Bergmeister win a second title in 2006 while finishing third in the standings.

Aside from driving for Penske at Road Atlanta, he also drove three times in GT2 in 2007 and finished on the podium each time. He helped Tafel Racing finish third at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and drove to runner-up class finishes with Flying Lizard Motorsports and Darren Law at Long Beach and Detroit. All three came in a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

Long already has won the world's three premier sports car races: Sebring, Petit Le Mans and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. His win this year at Le Mans was the second of his young career having won in his La Sarthe debut in 2004.

A California native, Long was named a Porsche Junior factory driver in 2003. Porsche elevated him to full factory status in 2004.

The remainder of Penske's 2008 lineup will be announced in the coming weeks.

Preparations for the 2008 American Le Mans Series, its 10th season of world- class sports car racing, begin January 28-30 with the annual Winter Test at Sebring International Raceway.

The 2008 season opens with the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 15. The race will start at 10 a.m. ET and will be broadcast live by SPEED, which will begin its coverage at 9:30 a.m. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.

-credit: alms