Setting Records with Only 358.17 Cubic Inches -- by Ira Ostenheimer 
Thursday, June 4, 2009, 07:19 PM
Posted by Administrator
Records were set this past Tuesday in Charlotte but they werenít the ones Carl Long has been trying to set for many years in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Circuit. Long, part-time driver and independent car owner, was tagged with a 12 race suspension and a 200 points penalty along with a $200,000.00 fine levied against his crew chief, Charles Swing, who was recently admitted to a hospital with heart problems on or about the time of the ruling by the National Stock Car Racing Commission.

The saga began on May 15th at Charlotte during practice for the All Star Race when the engine let go, prompting an inspection by NASCAR, who found it to be 0.17 over the maximum of 358 cubic inches. Itís interesting to note that Long, at that point, could have packed things up and left instead of allowing the officials to spec out the engine.

Rules are rules but one has to wonder if Long is a scapegoat, unlucky or merely a person who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. NASCAR is very clear about powerplant size (350 cubic inches with 8 cubic inch leeway to allow for variances) and for the first time in 18 years an engine was found to be over the limit. Itís also the first time a driver was sanctioned in such a way even though some feel he was thrown a bone by the Commission allowing him to still compete in the Nationwide and Camping World Series.

Traditionally, rules are instituted to insure compliance and when necessary, provide guidelines for corrective action. In the view of this writer they are not intended to sentence someone to life imprisonment for a simple assault. Sure he should have checked the engine himself even though long time builder Ernie Elliot certified that it was correct but by no measure of fairness and reality should a ruling, any ruling, be so stiff as to threaten the very existence of a team that had already been struggling just to make ends meet week in, week out.

All of this raises an interesting question. Does anyone really believe the Commission would have enacted the same ruling if the driver had been Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch or Jeff Gordon or Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

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