If you didn't know who Carl Long was before Wednesday night you do now. NASCAR announced a record penalty for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver.
“NASCAR has issued penalties, suspensions and fines to the No. 46 team [No. 146] in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as a result of rules infractions committed during last weekend’s event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
"The car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR Officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-5.4A (engine exceeded the maximum engine size of 358.000 cubic inch displacement) of the 2009 NASCAR rule book.
"As a result, crew chief Charles Swing has been fined $200,000, suspended from the next 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship events, suspended from NASCAR until Aug. 18 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
"Driver Carl Long and owner Danielle Long have been penalized with the loss of 200 driver and 200 owner points, respectively, suspended from the next 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship events, suspended from NASCAR until Aug. 18 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.”(Jayski.com)
To make one large statement simple for those who don’t know or understand NASCAR language, Long’s engine was .17 cubic inches to big in NASCAR opinion and rule book.
NASCAR fined and suspended Long and crew chief Charles Swing for 12 Sprint Cup races, docked 200 owner and driver points and put them on probation until Dec. 31, and fined Swing $200,000.
Now I want to say this I think NASCAR has every right to penalize when a driver intentionally or unintentionally breaks the rules.
But really is it necessary to fine a guy who was sitting 63rd in the standings before the penalty to really put him 200 in the hole?
Long had accumulated no points this season,and after the penalty Long dropped six positions to 69th in the series.
The reason for this suspension and harsh penalty goes to the All-Star race where Long suffered a blown engine, Long submitted the engine for NASCAR inspection at the Research and Developmental center.
Long and his crew put a new engine in and went on to start 34th when qualifying was cancelled and set by qualifying order for the Sprint Showdown on Saturday night.
He took home $5,000 with that finish.
Long who was never a factor admitted in a statement that he was unaware that his engine was too big and that he would not intentionally have used that engine. He went on to say that they purchased their engines from a reputable builder.
Long finished 35th on Saturday with no real advantage; he actually had 500 less horsepower than anyone in the field.
I don’t think Long is fighting what they found, he is fighting the penalty. To be honest, I think he has every right to.
What Long and his team did or didn't do when it came to knowing the equipment and making sure it was within the rule book, is not what I am talking about.
They should be fined and they should lose points but the penalty is excessive for a team that has yet to make a race this season and has only made $21,463 this season.
Can they even afford $200,000?
The question I have is say this was Tony Stewart or Jimmie Johnson would they be suspended for 12 races, and fined this staggering amount?
We would hope so.
But I don’t think NASCAR would suspend the sports most visible drivers who are contending for a wins and a championship.
Look at last year after Carl Edwards won at Las Vegas during post race inspection they found his oil tank reservoir was missing, they argued it wasn’t on purpose but NASCAR thought otherwise.
NASCAR believed it gave them an advantage.
Was Edwards suspended for 12 races or fined an astronomical amount?
Not really in comparison they were fined $100,000, Edwards crew chief was suspended six races, docked 100 championship owners points and they did not receive 10 bonus points for their victory when the chase was seeded in September.
At the time it dropped Edwards from leading the points to seventh in the standings. He eventually was the runner up last year to Jimmie Johnson.
But for Edwards and Roush Racing while it cost them immediately, they went on to race again and eventually won again while Osborne was suspended.
While the offenses are clearly different, NASCAR claimed both are major violations of the rules. The difference is Edwards went onto race.
Edwards has the luxury of driving for an organization that has the money and sponsorship behind them that even losing your crew chief for some races won’t be detrimental to the team and organization.
For Long he doesn’t have this luxury. This is a team that is leasing parts just to qualify into races and failing in the process.
I think NASCAR has every right to issue penalties but I think one factor that I hope they looked at is this is not a Hendrick Motorsports or even Michael Waltrip Racing.
While Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch have already made well over $1 million already this season, Long is barely breaking even.
Hopefully NASCAR is willing to at least reexamine the fine and point deductions.
Issuing a $200,000 fine and docking points from a team that probably won’t race again this season because of this is a little extreme.
We don’t have many successful single race teams that can race competitively every week.
Fines and penalties as extreme as these will for sure put these already struggling organizations on notice.
Sources: jayski.com, nascar.com