Part-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Long has spoken out about the punishment handed down to him following the discovery that an engine he submitted to scrutineers at the Sprint All-Star meeting was oversized.
While not denying that the engine broke NASCAR rules, Long insists that there was no deliberate intent to cheat. He had bought the engine from a reputable builder and was told that the heat generated when the engine blew up possibly could have caused the change in the size.
The engine blew during practice at Lowe's Motor Speedway and, in accordance with the regulations, handed the damaged unit over to NASCAR when replacing it. Series officials deemed that the engine was 0.17 cubic inches beyond the 358-cubic inch limit stipulated in the rules, and handed Long a twelve-week suspension from all NASCAR competition, docked him 200 points, and fined both him and crew chief Charles Swing $200,000 - the largest amount in NASCAR history.
Long, naturally, appealed the decision, but succeeded only in having the suspension limited to Sprint Cup competition, with the fine and loss of points remaining unchanged.
“I expected a reduction," Long admitted to Speed TV's Windtunnel with Dave Despain
show, "I expected the suspension to be dropped, or at least [reduced to] 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 that the infraction got rolled over to a Sprint Cup Series rule and that was the first time I'd seen that happen.”
Despain referred to Richard Petty winning 'with a huge motor at Charlotte' and getting 'only' a $35,000 fine, a record at the time, and the loss of 104 points, but Long pointed out that, not only was he not racing with the engine at the time, but that the discovery had not been made at a regular championship round.
"It was an All-Star Race, and in no other All-Star event in any sport does it affect the regular season," he claimed, "I asked them to change the rules - and that didn't work out too well, either.
"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', or 'fix this before next week' - but perhaps 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?”
On weekends when he's not racing, Long can typically be found in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide garages, working for Front Row Motorsports, and spotting for the respective Nationwide and Sprint Cup teams. The narrowing of his suspension will at least allow him to ply his trade, albeit in a limited way.