Perennial underdog of the Winston Cup scene Carl Long will have his best chance yet to prove himself in NASCAR's biggest arena in 2002 when he teams up with no less than three different outfits for what amounts to a near full-time assault on the 36 race schedule.

For the current off-season, Carl Long set one goal for himself -- to get on the racetrack for the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season. He didn't care what car he drove or who he drove it for. He just knew he wanted to race. He was willing to be his own mechanic, recruit his friends and family to serve as his crew - he was even willing to drive the transporter to the tracks, just as long as he got the opportunity to race in Winston Cup.

With the 2002 season just weeks away, it looks like Long will get his wish.

Through a unique arrangement, Long, who will compete for the 2002 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, will drive in 28-30 Winston Cup races with three different team owners. SR Racing will provide the engines for each team.

As part of the deal, Long, 34, will again team up Thee Dixon and Mansion Motorsports to run 10 Winston Cup races in the No. 85 Petty Enterprises prepped Dodge, beginning with the Daytona 500 on February 17th.

Heading away from the Mansion team for whom Long has appeared sporadically for over the past two years - making a name for himself by giving up his spot in the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte in 2000 in order to let Darrell Waltrip make one last start in the second biggest event of the year bar Daytona - Long will drive between eight and 10 races for the new Price Motorsports team and owner Foster Price in the organization's brand new Winston Cup team. He will pilot the No. 35 Dodge for the first time at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham one week after Daytona. Price Motorsports fielded a Hooters Pro Cup Series car for Long in 2001.

And finally with the help of SR Racing, Long, a Roxboro, N.C., native, will drive another Dodge for 10 additional Winston Cup races. His first race with SR Racing has not yet been determined.

Despite being forced to miss the pre-season test sessions at the Daytona International Speedway, Long is buoyant about his chances of qualifying more often in 2002. Last year Long attempted to qualify for 12 Winston Cup races with the No.85 Mansion Motorsports team but only made the field on three occasions with a best finish of 29th in the autumn Charlotte race. Long's nine DNQ's included a narrow miss for the Daytona 500.

"I've got three different team owners pooling their resources to help me race and at the same time looking to find me sponsor," Long said. "If one of them can find a full-time sponsor, we'll go with that team. But with the economy the way it is, it's not likely. So, instead we're offering 2-3 race deals for people looking to test the waters in racing."

Although various race teams are helping make his goals for the 2002 Winston Cup season a reality, Long will still have to drive his transporter and his friends and family will still be drafted into service as volunteer crew members.

But Long's not complaining. "I just want to race," he said.