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Thursday, May 21, 2009

NASCAR’s $200,000 fine for Carl Long’s tiny team is extreme

On Saturday night, Carl Long finished 35th in the Sprint Showdown, after his Dodge blew its motor just three laps into the 40-lap event. For his efforts, he won a grand total of $5,000.

But that was the best news he had all week. The real bad news came when NASCAR found that an engine of Long’s that had blown during the weekend “exceeded the maximum engine size of 358.000 cubic inch displacement”.

When the penalties were announced, it wasn’t pretty.

Long’s crew chief Charles Swing was fined $200,000, the largest penalty in the ENTIRE HISTORY of the sport. The previous record was $150,000 against Robby Gordon's crew chief, Frank Kerr, in March 2008, for an illegal part.

The team claims there were no illegal parts in the engine, but the combination of parts did not meet NASCAR specs. It will appeal the penalties.

This is a sport where we have seen elements of jet fuel and nitrous oxide used to boost speed. We have seem cheating on dynamometer tests by a major team, and plenty of other blatant cheating by big-money NASCAR teams (including three-time champ Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus, and other past Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs), yet not once in history has anyone been fined as much as NASCAR just fined Long’s crew chief.

The kind of fine levied here would be pennies to a guy like Rick Hendrick, but will essentially end the possibility of Carl Long ever racing again in NASCAR.
And something about the escalation of the penalty just stinks to me and appears way over the top.

There were other penalties, but they don’t mean much. Long has been suspended for the next 12 Sprint Cup races, but he hasn’t been in a points-paying Cup race since 2006. Long also was docked 200 points, yet another record. Several drivers and owners have been docked 100 points in recent years, so this is another insane escalation of penalty. It’s quite humorous when you realize he doesn’t have any points. He is now the first driver in NASCAR history to have "negative 200" points.

I recognize that, whether intentional or not, Long broke the rules. I’m all for NASCAR punishing him. But the whole thing just seems so extreme.

I’m not their accountant, but it’s entire possible that if you added up the savings accounts of Mr. Long’s family and Mr. Swing’s family, they might not even contain $200,000 combined.

I don’t expect a free pass for Long’s team, but to treat him more harshly than the established teams that have been busted in the past, especially considering he’s almost never at the track and has an extremely tiny budget, makes NASCAR look absolutely ridiculous and bully-like. You have to wonder if a Hendrick car would have gotten the same treatment.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl just slapped an Ernie Elliot engine in the car. He doesn't have enough crew to tear down every engine they buy. NASCAR loves to kick the little guys in the gut.

May 21, 2009 at 11:02 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100%. The punishment doesn't fit the crime. 200 points is more than any driver gets for winning a points race and this was a non points race. $200,000 is about 4 times the amount that Sam Hornish got for winning the Showdown. And a 12 race suspension for a driver for a non drug related violation is unprecedented. I could understand if Long and his team were repeat offenders but I believe that he is a first time offender. This punishment is very excessive in my opinion.

Where does NASCAR go from here? Is the next step, 300 points, $400k and a 24 race suspension for the driver and crew chief? I have a hard time believing that NASCAR would suspend Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson or Dale Jr. if their teams got busted for an illegal part on the car. It looks like they're just trying to make an example out of an also ran like Long.

May 21, 2009 at 1:28 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NASCAR has officially proven themselves to be jackasses. I"d start a fund to help Carl pay the penalty but I'm not willing to give NASCAR my money. Tell them to go to hell Carl and go another series.

May 21, 2009 at 6:14 PM 

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