Let's flash back to Rockingham 2004. The last race at the "Rock" (for NEXTEL Cup) in which Matt Kenseth drove to victory. While Kenseth's victory will always be remembered as the last NEXTEL Cup series winner (for the time being) at the Rock, many will still remember one famous flip.
Carl Long, driving in the #46 Al Smith Dealership Dodge was racing Joe Nemechek and Brendan Gaughan when suddenly; his career would change. As contact was set, Long spun then flipped all the way down the backstretch and into the apron off of Turn 3. While many fans simply said "Wow" as Long immediately emerged from his destroyed vehicle, an even more amazing feat was accomplished later on.
Long prepared the car out of his own garage, with his own money (which isn't exactly the $$ of a Rick Hendrick) and with a group of volunteer crew members. His sponsor was a local dealership and while he was numerous laps down, he still raced. While other under-financed drivers such as Kirk Shelmerdine, Morgan Shepherd and Joe Ruttman (on LAP ONE) all parked their cars in order to preserve their cars; Long continued to truck on and put in an honest effort. He stayed out of the way when needed but raced when he had to. Along with the #80 Hover Motorsports entry for Andy Hillenburg (who coincidentally became the owner of the Rock last year), underdog NASCAR fans had something to root for. But the crash set Long back. Carl Long was always known as a selfless driver. He even once gave Darrell Waltrip a ride in the Coca-Cola 600 when DW failed to qualify. Carl actually passed up the opportunity to race in one of the biggest events of the year, yet passed it up. DW still thanks him on the air to this day, but never has offered him a ride.
Thankfully, Long has a rabid fanbase. Sure, there may not be as many fans of Carl as there would be for Jeff Gordon and even David Gilliland, they donated. Once the mainstream heard news of their efforts, more money piled in. Soon, Carl was able to buy a car from Petty Enterprises and entered the NEXTEL Open with the message "THANK YOU FANS" simply placed on the hood.
However after a few small rides with teams such as McGlynn Motorsports, Hover Motorsports and C2M, the resiliency of Long's fans and himself faded into a distant memory. When Carl would qualify, SPEED TV would usually air a commercial for "Pinks" and only give an update after the run was completed. While he didn't make every race, he still continued. He even got a full-time Hooters Cup Series ride with the Long Brothers and won a race last season.
But as NASCAR gets younger and younger, Long had to search for a ride. While he would find one-off deals, nothing concrete ever materialized. As costs rose, Carl had to something that he hasn't been known to do. Park a Car.
Now what is Carl doing? After his last race ended in a park, an interesting opportunity came to fruition. A crew chief job for the #24 Hefty car for Eric McClure. While Carl was the "truck chief" for Spears Motorsports (most known for the #75 David Starr entry in the Truck Series), he never had a real crew chief job. While still establishing communication with McClure, Long has embraced the role of crew chief. Also he still races for the Long Brothers in the Hooters Cup Series and continues to look for an opportunity to race.
Carl's Website, home to a group of knowledgeable and passionate NASCAR fans; a true fun place to be: