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.
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