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Friday, June 5, 2009

NASCAR’s refusal to cut Carl Long a break is sinful

Carl Long was hopeful this week as he headed into the appeal of penalty for an illegal engine, for which his team had received a 12-race suspension, 200-point penalty and $200,000 fine – by the way, all NASCAR records.

He had reason to be positive, as there had been public explanation all week about how he got the engine, and how there was no intent to break any rules. He could have gone home after the engine blew in practice, but decided to replace it and keep racing with a backup engine. If he was really a cheater, he wouldn’t have stuck around.

But instead of emerging successful – perhaps with a shorter 4-race suspension and a fine much smaller than 200K, everything was upheld. Making things worse is that Carl can’t even do his day job for the next few months, as he works full-time for the #34 Cup team and can’t be involved in Cup at all during his suspension.

NASCAR threw Carl a bone, saying he didn’t have to pay the fine, which was assessed to his crew chief Charles Swing, if the crew chief couldn’t pay it. Unfortunately for Swing (who was reportedly hospitalized with heart trouble after hearing of the fine), that means he can never work in the NASCAR garage again, not that he’d want to after this fiasco.

My question is simple: Why so harsh? Why give Carl a harsher deal than any big star has ever received in the history of the sport. For starters, he didn’t even know the engine is illegal. Bigger teams like Hendrick Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing have been busted for some pretty serious cheating that was obviously done on purpose, but never received such harsh punishments.

So why give Carl Long, a guy who just shows up to race a couple times of year because he loves the sport, the biggest fine EVER, then fail to reduce it one penny upon appeal.

That’s not just heartless, it’s just plain sinful. If the old adage of “do unto others as you would have done to you “ is true, the people handing out penalties in NASCAR are going to get screwed over real bad in the very near future in some aspect of their lives.

I’m not denying that the engine was illegal, but when examining the facts of this case, then looking back at past penalties that have been handed out, there’s no logical explanation for the ridiculous way NASCAR handled this situation.

After the ruling was handed down, Long was clearly disgusted, and rightfully so, as he spoke many truths about the way the sport treats the little guy.
"These guys don't care. They don't have any heart. … They just want to make a dollar. I truly have a sour taste of the management in our sport. They've forgotten the roots of how this sport was created, and who are the people buying the tickets, sitting in the stands. The people in the stands are me."

Very true, Carl.
Sadly, the people up top can’t hear you from their luxury skyboxes.

Big bucks in NASCAR
In case you were wondering whether NASCAR was a big-time sport, Forbes magazine has released a list of the sport’s most valuable teams.

Top Dog Rick Hendrick weighs in at No. 1 with a value of about 350 million big ones, and is projected to earn about 195 million in revenue in 2009. The biggest splash on the list is Stewart-Haas Racing, which has basically doubled in value since Tony Stewart came on as a co-owner. The team is now worth 80 million bucks, and will earn about 53 million this year. The average value of the top 10 teams is 148 million bucks, and the average revenue for the year will be 96 million dollars.

Now I have a better understanding of why Tony wanted to be a team owner when he could already win races at Gibbs … you can make a crapload of money as a team owner if your drivers are performing well on the track. (As a side note, I’m pretty sure Carl Long’s team isn’t even worth the 200K it was just fined).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

So why can't Carl continue to work for Frontrow Motorsports in the meantime? The drivers and teams, NASCAR conveniently claims, are "independent contractors." If so, why does NASCAR have a role in deciding who can or cannot work for an "independent contractor?" - Don G

June 5, 2009 at 1:45 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don G-
Because na$car issues the credential for each crew member to get into the track, as well as into the garage area. It is hard to be the spotter for a driver from outside the track. Suspension = no race credential = no job.

June 5, 2009 at 3:48 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that Dave (for better or worse). But we seem to be lead to believe Carl can't even work for 'em back at the shop. True or not? - Don

June 5, 2009 at 7:17 PM 
Blogger Matthew said...

Because Carl is the spotter and car chief for the #37 Long John Silvers Cup car. (Front Row Motorsports) Kinda hard to be a spotter at the shop. ;-) And Front Row is also a team on a pretty limited budget. It wouldn't be so easy to just "create a job" for Carl to do. The board ascended the penalty thus only banning Carl from the Cup Series. He could still work (but not drive) in the Nationwide Series for Front Row's car there...but he's said that team is already full with employees.

June 7, 2009 at 4:33 AM 

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