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« Is Mayfield bluffing or does he have a winning hand? | Main | Let’s not forget what this weekend is truly about »

NASCAR may have painted itself into a corner in Carl Long case

By admin | May 21, 2009

By Richard Allen

The iron hand of justice has fallen heavily on owner/driver Carl Long. He was fined an incredible $200,000 and suspended for 12 races. Long and his team also lost 200 points.

The engine in Long’s car was found to measure 358.17 cubic inches upon inspection during the Sprint All Star weekend last week in Charlotte. NASCAR rules mandate that a car’s engine is not to exceed 358 cubic inches.

It’s not really a big deal when NASCAR fines Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon or Carl Edwards a few thousand dollars for some infraction they may have committed. It’s not as if those guys have shortages of money. But strangely, it seems as though drivers such as these never get suspended for rules infractions committed by their teams or their own bad behavior.

If NASCAR wants to suddenly start enforcing the rule book so rigidly that’s fine, as long as they are consistent.

Herein lies the problem for the sanctioning body. What if another driver and team is caught for the same infraction following Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600? Will that driver and team receive the fine, suspension and points penalties Carl Long received?

NASCAR may have painted itself into a corner with the harsh penalties it has handed out recently, both in this case and the case of Jeremy Mayfield who was suspended indefinitely for a substance abuse violation.

For the sake of comparison, let’s say that another owner/driver is found with an engine measuring 358.17 cubic inches this weekend. However, this time that owner/driver is superstar Tony Stewart rather than little known Carl Long.

In the same instance, would Stewart have a $200,000 fine and a 200 point penalty levied against him? More importantly, would Stewart and his team be benched for 12 races?

I think we all know the answer to that last question.

There are examples on top of examples where drivers were allowed to keep wins or were allowed to race the next week after serious and blatant infractions were found.

But now, NASCAR has decided to crack the whip. Carl Long had to be taught a lesson.

NASCAR, if this is now the way penalties are going to be enforced on people like Carl Long, it had better be the way they are enforced on everybody.

If the next offender is Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson or Matt Kenseth, will he be taught the same lesson? If not, there will be lots of questions to answer.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

13 Responses to “NASCAR may have painted itself into a corner in Carl Long case”

  1. Larry Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 2:52 am

    I agree with you 100%! These fines/penalties are crazy and you can bet myself and many others will be watching to see what happens when one of the big stars gets busted. It won’t happen though. Rather than kicking Jr., Gordon, Johnson, or several others out for twelve races they’ll just turn their heads. This is another prime example of the many problems Nascar has right now. Gosh, that limit on the engine he exceeded .17″ could almost be due to wear in the cylinders! I really think that the big owners-Hendrick, Roush, Gibbs, Childress should be raising cain about this because it’s evident for some reason that they are trying to force Carl Long out of Nascar. A 200,000 thousand dollar fine would be very hard for him to raise I’m sure and Nascar knows this. For whatever reason they have it in for him. And, there was just an article a few days ago on Richard Petty’s win at Charlotte with an engine that was like 388 cubic inches and he was allowed to keep the win and got no suspensions from races as I remember. Call was just .17 inch over 358″ and he gets these penalties? This has to be one of the biggest travesties in nascar history! Has Brian France reach retirement age yet?

  2. George Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 6:45 am

    Richard did have a “big” engine in 1983. The reason his win was allowed to stand was because at that time, NA$CAR only inspected the winner. By the time they were finished with the inspection process, the 2nd and 3rd place cars were long gone. NA$CAR couldn’t declare one of them the winner when it had no way to inspect them (can you say lawsuit?). It is also now common knowledge that several teams during that time frame ran big engines at certain races with the plan of finishing 2nd or 3rd and knowing they wouldn’t be inspected. Watch a replay of that race and you will see Waltrip back off and just let Petty pass him and cruise to the win. Petty didn’t know he had a big engine and in the fallout from that race, it was the last time he let his brother, Maurice, build engines for him.

  3. Ken Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 7:11 am

    I think the severity of the penalty and the penalty itself was an attempt to divert the attention away from the Mayfield fiasco. It’s bad when a struggling driver ends up being a diversion for NA$CAR.

  4. midasmicah Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 7:17 am

    How many times has Chad Knaus been caught red handed? The punishment was minimal. Nas$car has really over played their hand in both the Carl Long and the Jeramy Mayfield cases. Do you really think a Jimmy Johnson or a Tony Stewart would have been treated in this manner. Nas$car uses the bully pulpit quite weall on the small teams who can ill afford it. Nas$car is not a corporation, it’s a dictatorship with Nero France fiddling away.

  5. jerome Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 7:20 am

    This is why I find it harder and harder to stay with NASCAR. I’ve been a fan going back to the day whjen the only racing you could find on TV was snippets on “Wide World of Sports.” To pick on Carl Long is a joke. This will effectively ruin his NASCAR career, such as it is. Is this NASCAR’s way of dealing with the “start and parkers?’ (Not that Long has come close to making a race recently.) If I were the other small teams I would be worried. If I was an owner looking to start a team i’d reconsider. NASCAR will bow down to the big teams, with the big sponsors. IF NASCAR can get rid of all the little guys, then the top 35 rule becomes less of a hot topic, and while there is no franchising perse, the effect will be the same. beward Scott iRggs, David Gilliland,, Joe Nemechek, Dave Blaney.

  6. Charles Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Here is Nascar at it again, showing favortism when giving penalties, you can bet if it was some of the big name teams you would not have the same penalty!

    I dont trust Nascar when they inspect cars anymore! Now they are taking engines back to Charlotte for checking! All these close door policy creates suspicion!

    I also question where they have a “conflict of interest” policy when they are hiring inspectors, by that I mean a inspector that used to work for a Nascar team or have a Nascar team owner who could ‘give them gifts’ which would naturally give them favorable treatment!

    I dont mean to sound so negative but in Nascar with all the money involved and questionable and inconsistent rules something is not right or fair!

    I liked the old way of inspecting cars, let the car owners protest the other, have it out in the open, like Bobby Allison did to Richard Petty and Waltrip at Charlotte years ago, the fans would love the controversy and it would be more tranparent as well! Plus create more insterest for the next race, not less!

    All this “politlcal correctness” is not working for Nascar!

  7. The Old Guy Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Seems to me that Jr. Johnson and Geoff Bodine were both suspended for 2 races and fined for an oversize engine in 1991.

    I recall that the #11 car ran as the #97 car for those two races and that the car owner was Flossie Johnson Jr’s, then, wife.

    Of course, that was 1991.

  8. amy anderson Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 8:57 am

    As Kyle Petty observed so accurately, NASCAR punishes from the bottom up, not the top down. Every penalty proves that. I remamber when JG came to the Winston with a star wars car -every exotic, illegal thing on it that had been developed. They told him not to use it again. I suspect that half of the innovations went onto his other cars and that is why he and Ray won so many races that season. Chad Knaus was suspended, but not from working in his garage and not from keeping in contact by phone with the team on race day. But Karl can’t even keep his day job since he has been bounced for most of the rest of the season?! I admit I don’t understand Helton’s, Hunter’s, and Darby’s thinking-if they actuallly do any. They look more like the three stooges than like intelligent, forward looking managers of an organization. You have to worry when they tell you that they have been discussing the double file restart for Cup racing for A YEAR now. What can they possibly discuss about it that would take a year?!! geez louise

  9. Reggie Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 10:29 am

    You won’t see any top teer driver or team get busted for the same infraction as Carl did. The problem would just be ignored. No one would ever know.

  10. Don Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 11:49 am

    No, NASCAR isn’t painting itself into a corner. They won’t “find” anything like this with any of the big guys.

  11. D Jones Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I thought the same thing after reading about Carl’s fines.

    I agree with Don 11:49am.

  12. midasmicah Says:
    May 22nd, 2009 at 4:02 pm

    Did anyone else notice that the allergy medicine Jeramy Mayfield took was one of their sponsors? Kind of an ironic coincidence isn’t it? No matter how this turns out, nas$cash over stepped their bounds here. And the Carl Long situation is such a joke that I won’t comment further.

  13. Preston W. & Sherry Dougherty Says:
    July 16th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    What else can be said, so much of the things that are wrong with NASCAR now will never be dealt with fairly because this great sport has turned into nothing but whose robot makes the most money, not about the sport itself, the fans or even the less advantaged drivers who work so hard for what they receive! We have been been involved in this sport for so long, spent so much money supporting it & being at the races, but who cares about that? Nobody, that’s who, because we are like 99% of the fans, we do not have millions but without us NASCAR would not even be here. We have always backed Jeremy Mayfield since he started his very first race & this whole thing is just outrageous! I totally agree with the person called “midasmicah” (nas$cash-great name by the way) has overstepped their bounds way to far this time. I’m also with this person in saying I really just can’t comment on the Carl Long situation! This is all going to turn out badly and keep getting worse if these so called Officals do not do something quick!