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After long journey, Julia Landauer earns first Xfinity Series start

Josh Berry admits that qualifying has been a "little bit of a struggle," but he'll lead the field to green at New Hampshire for the Xfinity race after qualifying on pole despite making contact with the wall.

LOUDON, N.H. — Several years of work were compressed into a little over 31 seconds Friday, and after her slip-sliding thrill ride was finished, Julia Landauer couldn’t contain her excitement in not having given up on her dream.

The 30-year-old from New York City will make her NASCAR national series debut in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network).

“I’m so giddy!” She told NBC Sports after her qualifying attempt.

MORE: Xfinity Series starting lineup at New Hampshire

Landauer called it “an incredible sense of relief” to get through qualifying. She’ll start Saturday’s race 32nd after a lap of 31.430 seconds.

It was quite a journey to get to this moment.

Landauer was the first and youngest female champion in the Skip Barber Racing Series at age 14. She won a Limited Late Model track championship at Motor Mile Speedway in Fairlawn, Virginia, in 2015. Landauer competed in the K&N Pro Series West in 2016-17. She was selected to the 2016 NASCAR Next Class, which included Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland and Noah Gragson.

Landauer moved to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, running selects races in 2018-19, but opportunities became scarce after that. She last raced in NASCAR in 2020 in a brief appearance in the Euro Series.

“The past several years in general have been quite an emotional roller coaster,” Landauer said. “I’ve been on track and had hopes of making it to the national series quite a few years ago and just couldn’t get the funding that was needed.

“I kind of got to a point last year where I had almost decided, ‘Alright, it’s time to hang up the helmet.’”

She found sponsorship and that led to the opportunity this weekend with Alpha Prime Racing.

With only 20 minutes of practice Friday, Landauer had little time to prepare for qualifying, which proved to be an adventure.

“That was so much harder than I thought it was going to be,” Landauer told NBC Sports. “Practice went by so quickly. I was working as hard as I could, and I couldn’t catch anybody. It was so fast in the corner, I was not quite prepared for that.

“Then in qualifying, I knew I just had to go into the corner. I went way too fast into Turn 1, thought I was going to hit the wall, stayed off the wall and got it going. … I definitely lost quite a bit of time by almost hitting the wall, but great first experience in an Xfinity car.”