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Woody: Long Shorted, No Big Surprise There

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 3 2009
The appeal by Carl Long's team has been denied.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The appeal by Carl Long's team has been denied. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Perhaps the great philosopher Gomer Pyle put it best:

“Surprise! Surprise!”

And:

“Gawleeeeeee!”

Everyone who thought the National Stock Car Racing Commission might do Carl Long justice and throw out the absurdly-harsh penalties recently meted out by NASCAR, please raise your hand.

I’d like get with you later to discuss some beautiful beachfront property in Death Valley.

Long went to the Commission seeking justice and all he got was another kick in the teeth. The journeyman driver last month was given a virtual career death penalty for having a broken tail light.

In a non-points event at Charlotte – a qualifier for the all-star race – Long’s beat-up old rebuilt ARCA engine was found to be over-sized by a gnat’s eyelash.

The powerful motor certainly gave Long a mighty edge – it lasted three whole laps before it blew sky-high.

And for that, he was kicked out for 12 races, his crew chief suspended and fined $200,000, docked 200 Sprint Cup points (even though the infraction didn’t occur in a Sprint Cup points race) and other judicial overkill.

Long appealed his case to the National Stock Car Racing Commission and on Tuesday it announced that (hope you’re sitting down!) it was upholding most of the severe penalties.

Somebody, with a straight face, tried to justify the action by explaining that an over-sized engine is a most egregious transgression in NASCAR.

Really? So how come Richard Petty wasn’t suspended for 12 races when he was caught with one? After winning a race? A win, incidentally, that he was allowed to keep?

I’d like the Commission to explain that.

Of course we all know the answer. One illegal engine belonged to the King, Richard Petty. The other belonged to some guy named Carl. See the difference?

When big-name teams get caught cheating – Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorports being among the more recent examples – they get off with a wrist slap.

Maybe some of their illegal tinkering isn’t as blatant as having an over-sized motor, but cheating is cheating. Maternity wards don’t have separate rooms for the “somewhat pregnant.”

If the big teams weren’t convinced that “minor cheating” didn’t give them an edge, they wouldn’t bother to do it.

Of course NASCAR knows it doesn’t have to worry about superstars like Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Kyle Busch getting caught with a worn-out old hand-me-down motor.

I used to naively believe that all drivers were treated equally, but I don’t any more. I think that in NASCAR – as in life – the wealthy superstars get a pass and the nobodys get hammered.

I’ll continue my cynicism until one of the fat-cat teams gets nailed (yet again) for cheating and an owner named Gibbs or Hendrick or a driver named Gordon or Earnhardt is suspended for 12 races.

As for the Commission, it’s always been a rubber-stamp joke.

Retired driver Jeff Purvis once told me about his experience with the National Stock Car Racing Commission. Purvis had been fined and suspended for a pit road fracas. He went before the Commission to appeal the penalties.

When he came out the penalties had been increased. 
I asked Jeff if he planned to take his appeal any further.

“Heck no,” Purvis said, managing to add with a chuckle:  “I’m afraid that if I open my mouth again they’ll add on more penalties. I’ve had about all the justice I can stand.” 

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 3 2009
3 Comments

3 Comments »

  • Marybeth says:

    Mr. Woody, I found these items interesting. Marybeth

    “The Frontstretch.com
    The Wheel Files: Conspiracy Theories Alive and Well in NASCAR
    Holding A Pretty Wheel • Amy Henderson • Friday June 5, 2009

    Comments:
    Dave
    06/05/2009 06:41 PM
    permalink
    Amy- Speaking of conspiracies, Carl Long made one comment that made a lot of sense to me. He mentioned the topic of franchising, that I had not heard in a while, and that used to be a regular topic of discussion. Back then, Na$car said it wasn’t looking at that til 2010, which is conveniently coming up. I would think that any franchising arrangements would include a way for any “current” team to purchase a franchise from Na$car, meaning that owning a current team would have some significant value at that point, as only so many franchises will be available. If indeed franchising the teams is around the corner, it would make sense for Na$car to try to get rid of the little teams (read: Carl Long, Jeremy Mafield, Robby Gordon, etc.) which will reduce the number of current teams that would have the “right” to purchase a franchise. The laws of supply and demand mean that the fewer remaining teams/franchise would have significantly more value, potentially raking in much more money when Na$car sells those franchises.
    It all makes perfect sense in that light.
    Food for thought.
    Thanks for your great columns, and GO CARL!
    Dave

    “Femmefan: Valerie Wood
    Thursday, June 4, 2009
    PS — Fans are already donating whatever they can to help out Carl Long. Sprint Cup driver and recent first time winner David Reutimann has already given $5,000 to get the ball rolling! For more information, visit Carl’s website, http://www.carl-long.com.
    Posted by Valerie at 6/04/2009 12:18:00 PM
    Labels: Carl Long NASCAR Penalty”

  • Dave in Indy says:

    You mention: “I’ll continue my cynicism until one of the fat-cat teams gets nailed (yet again) for cheating and an owner named Gibbs or Hendrick or a driver named Gordon or Earnhardt is suspended for 12 races.”

    You probably mean “Jeff Gordon” for it WILL happen to Robby, at some point but not Jeff G., Dale, Jimmie, Kyle or drivers of their ilk. Money talks….

  • [...] Perhaps the great philosopher Gomer Pyle put it best: “Surprise! Surprise!” And: “Gawleeeeeee!” Everyone who thought the National Stock Car Racing Commission might do Carl Long justice and throw out the absurdly-harsh penalties recently meted out by NASCAR, http://www.racintoday.com/archives/5351 [...]