By admin | June 27, 2009
By Richard Allen
Judging from the responses I received from the column I wrote a few days back the passion of race fans ran pretty deep in regard to the punishment handed down on owner/driver Carl Long.
Long was found with an engine that measured 358.17c.i. during the qualifying race for the Sprint All Star Challenge at the Loweâ€™s Motor Speedway in May. For a seemingly minor infraction, NASCAR levied the most severe punishment in its history.
Sanctions of 200 points, $200,000 and a 12 race suspension were doled out by NASCAR on this journeyman campaigner who races on a less-than-shoestring budget. A driver who on more than one occasion has been the 43rd car to enter a race and prevent NASCAR from having to explain why they were not living up to their end of the bargain with the television networks by the way.
The suspension was eventually reduced to eight races after an appeal but the fine and points penalties remained in place.
The engine in question had been purchased from Ernie Elliott and had been previously used. Elliott believes the engine expanded due to the heat build up from its previous usage.
The 200 point penalty was not a major concern for Long who was never in contention for the Top 35 in the Sprint Cup standings. However, the 8 race suspension and $200,000 fine could well prove to be devastating.
Some believe NASCAR was so harsh toward Long to draw attention away from the then festering Jeremy Mayfield drug suspension situation. Some believe Long was hit so hard because NASCAR was using him to send a message to the bigger teams with more famous drivers.
Whether either of those scenarios is true or not only NASCAR knows. However, the penalties for such a small infraction committed by such a small team were excessive. A little understanding of the situation could have gone a Long way(pardon the pun).
Long can be eligible to race again at Bristol if the fine is paid by that time. His website has information about how those who want to or just generally believe he was mistreated can help.
As of this writing just over $21,000 had been received. I have decided to donate $25 myself and would like to challenge everyone who is reading this column, and the future columns which will provide the link below, to donate as well.
Obviously, this is not the best of times to be asking for donations to be made to a race team when there are so many other pressing issues. I am fortunate enough to be able to afford the $25 right now. I realize many cannot.
It is also a bit difficult to justify giving money that will wind up going into NASCARâ€™s hands at some point, even if they do eventually give the money to charity. However, the desire to help out someone who I believe was done an injustice outweighs the other issues in my mind. Perhaps it will in yours as well.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
*Click on the link above to find information on howÂ you canÂ help Carl Long.
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