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Illegal Engine A Costly Mistake For Carl Long

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, May 21 2009
 
Carl Long has had the big hurt put on him by NASCAR. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Carl Long has had the big hurt put on him by NASCAR. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Concord, N.C. – Carl Long is a little guy with a big problem. He’s facing one of the most severe penalties in NASCAR history – 200 points, 12 weeks suspension and a $200,000 fine for his crew chief, Charles Swing. The part-time team was hit after the engine in their Dodge at the Sprint Showdown was found to be a hair over the 358-cubic-inch limit.

Long, who appealed his penalty and was allowed in the track to continue his day job as a spotter and mechanic for the No. 34 car, driven this week by Tony Raines.

Long said he purchased the engine, which came from an old Ganassi Racing Dodge, but it didn’t match the spec sheet he was given when he bought it. The crankshaft was not the matching one for the bore of the block, which put the engine over the limit.

The difference in a legal engine and Long’s was somewhere between .009 and .017 depending on how it was measured, according to crew members.

Long explained the situation in a statement on his website.

“We purchased an engine from a reputable builder at the beginning of the season,” he said. “We overheated the engine in practice and had to change it. We had the option to withdraw and go home before admitting it to inspection. Trusting that our blown engine wouldn’t have any problems passing NASCAR tech, we submitted it and put our other motor in the car to get ready for the Showdown.

“As everyone knows it didn’t pass tech. The rules are 358 cubic inches and ours is 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.”

He stated that he would have never knowingly race a big engine.

“I can only hope that the appeal board will see things differently than the ones that came up with this penalty,” he said. “I don’t consider myself a cheater. I am addicted to the worse drug ever…racing.

“Every dime we have been able to scrape up we use to race because we love the sport. It takes about a half million in equipment to be able to build an engine, so I have to rely on other people, and this time it bit me.”

The feelings about Long and his penalty seemed to be more favorable to him on the lower income side, but against him on the high-income, high-points standings side.

Jeff Burton said he’s all in favor of tough penalties, even when the people getting them aren’t in much of a position to overcome them

 “That’s a really, really big penalty especially for Carl and the financial situation they’re in,” Burton said. “You know tall fences make great neighbors, and big rules make people not cheat.

 “If you never make people regret doing the wrong thing, they’ll never do the right thing so I’m in favor of big penalties because I think it makes it where people don’t want to mess around.”

Rick Minter | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, May 21 2009
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