By admin | August 1, 2009
By Richard Allen
NASCAR may need to put Carl Long on their speed dial very soon.
Only 43 cars showed up in Pocono for the Pennsylvania 500 this week. So much for that â€˜go or go homeâ€™ qualifying session. Itâ€™s probably a good thing for NASCAR that it rained. That kept the television crew who would have been covering qualifying from having to explain that there were only the bare minimum of cars to show up.
It could be that the day may soon be coming in which fewer than 43 cars will show up for a race. Then, there will be some explaining to do. NASCAR is supposed to put 43 cars in the show. Thatâ€™s what the television networks expect and it is what fans expect when they buy tickets.
In previous times such as these, NASCAR has been bailed out by the likes of owner/driver Carl Long who would show up to be that 43rd car. However, there is a complication now.
It seems as though NASCAR decided they did not need Mr. Long around anymore back in May. The journeyman campaigner was found to have an engine that measured 358.17 cubic inches during an inspection after the All Star qualifying race. NASCAR allows 358 cubic inches.
Certainly, Longâ€™s engine did not meet specifications. However, the infraction was so slight that any real gain would not have been noticed. Considering that Long struggles to make ends meet with his small team and that no real harm was done, NASCAR could have slapped him with a minor penalty and been done with it. However, they chose another direction. They hammered Long with the biggest fine in the sportâ€™s history and suspended him for 12 weeks.
NASCAR then declared that even after the 12 weeks are up that Long could not return to the track until the fine was paid in full. Long has been forced to ask for donations to meet the sanctioning bodyâ€™s directive.
Some believe NASCAR took such a heavy handed approach to draw attention away from the Jeremy Mayfield mess. There is no way to prove that but whatever their reasoning back then, NASCAR may be wishing they had no been so hard lined.
Now, NASCAR may soon be faced with a situation in which they need ole Carl Long and he will not be there.
Of course, they could come up with some way to excuse the fine and allow Long to return in order to insure a full field of cars. But, NASCAR will not do that. Such a move would be tantamount to admitting they made a mistake in the first place and that is not going to happen.
NASCAR might need to put Carl long on their speed dial, but they wonâ€™t. Theyâ€™re too stubborn.
Every week there is a report of a sponsor who is going away or a rumor that another team in closing its shop. NASCAR may soon have to face a race with fewer than 43 cars. Thatâ€™s all right though. We all know itâ€™s the economyâ€¦right?
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
Topics: Articles |