Carl Long on Dave Despain: I've Been Vocal

Gary GuilliamsCorrespondent IJune 8, 2009

CONCORD, NC - OCTOBER 11: Carl Long, driver of the #08 Dodge, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 11, 2007 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Carl Long joined Dave Dispain Sunday night to discuss his recent NASCAR penalty for an over-sized Cup engine during NASCAR Sprint All-Star weekend. Long’s appeal was heard, but the penalties, including his suspension and $200,000 fine, were upheld.

Dave Despain: You’ve been vocal in criticizing the penalty here. What do you think should have happened? Had you been NASCAR, what would you have done?

Carl Long: Kept the engine. Some infraction but not near what we got from this deal.

Despain: Less penalty?

Long: Yeah, I’ve been vocal. It was an All-Star Race and in no other All-Star event in any sport does it affect the regular season, so I asked them to change the rules. That didn’t work out too well, either.

Despain (reading NASCAR statement): Nothing has changed. There have always been severe penalties for attempting to manipulate engine, tires or fuel. Do you have any reaction to that?

Long: Somewhat. I think that when Richard Petty won the race, he won the race when Bodine did what he did. They were in competition. This was in practice and anyone in the garage area knows my circumstances and why I’m there. The rules are written for what they are but the bottom line is it always has at NASCAR’s discretion.

There’s a few things: ‘Hey, get this fixed before you come back through tech. Fix this before next week.’ So, I was wrong by expecting to get something out of it. A rule is a rule. That’s what they said. That’s the way it’s got to be. There’s no other game in town, so what do you do?”

Despain: Richard Petty, when he won his 198th race, I think it was, with a huge motor at Charlotte, got a $35,000 fine, which was a record at the time, and they took away 104 points. So, there’s that. When you appealed it, did you think something was going to happen?

Long: I expected a reduction. I expected the suspension to be dropped or at least the four weeks like Geoff Bodine and Junior Johnson had. I thought about a lot of things but none of them seemed to happen except the infraction got rolled over to a Sprint Cup Series rule and that was the first time I’d seen that happen.

Despain: They took your original NASCAR suspension, which was 12 weeks, and applied it only to Sprint Cup, meaning you can still work in Truck and Nationwide. How does that change in the suspension affect your life? Does it help?

Long: A little. It will allow me to go with our Nationwide team but at the same time, if I’m spotting for our Nationwide team, are they going to kick me out of the flagman’s stand if I’m spotting for the Cup team when they change practice sessions?

It’s been pretty tough because when I go to the race track, if I was going cheated, I was going to go ‘big cheated’ and if I got kicked out I had every opportunity to load up and go the house and we didn’t. So, here I am and we can’t pay the fine, so we’re just out of NASCAR.

Despain: Does Ernie Elliott have a role in this? Does the engine builder have any responsibility in your mind?

Long: I tried to see if NASCAR, when I lobbied the hearing, would make engine builders responsible, and that’s not a part of it. Ernie basically cut me a deal. He had a lot of extra Ganassi engines, he cut me a deal on one. Why it’s big and how it got big I have no idea. His part was as much as it overheated, it melted the head gasket into the cylinder head and he said that’s why it got big.

Despain: It was a crew chief’s fine. Does it revert to you if he can’t pay it?

Long: Yes, at the end of the year, section 12 of the rulebook basically states any fines not settled go back to the owner, which my wife was listed as the owner. So, typically, you could say I’m off the hook. But how do I go back to the race track without my wife when it’s my team?

Despain: Have they run you off?

Long: I hope not. David Reutimann has started cheerleading and trying to pool up some money and make things happen for us. This penalty is probably at least 300 percent more than what we make. I don’t know how I go forward with it.

You want to race. You want to be a part of it. Yes, I can be in the Nationwide Series garage and so forth but at the end of the year, my license is not in good standing. I’ve never seen anything to compare it to in the past.

So, what do you think about Long's suspension? I can't speak for anyone else but personally, I think NASCAR was a bit harsh on this reasons being..

  • It was for the All-Star race.
  • It was not a points-paying race.
  • The engine blew during practice, not the actual race.

The rules are 358 cubic inches and Long's was 358.17 cubic inches. The .17 is as wrong as if it would have been 400 cubic inches. This engine is 50 horsepower less than top teams but it was all that could be afforded.