Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Rules are rules.

That's what they say, at least. Not debating its truth here, only the mere existence of the cliche.

Sometimes, it simply shouldn't matter what the rules are.

When NASCAR held their annual All-Star race and qualifying event, little-known part-time driver Carl Long, who works for the No. 34 team in his spare time, decided to enter his car in the event. The idea was to get in the field, pocket whatever prize money he could, and then move on with his struggling race team.

There was a bump in the road for Long, however. The engine on his car blew up during qualifying. As is NASCAR policy, Long had to turn over the engine for inspection or leave the track and withdraw from the All-Star qualifier.

Not thinking anything could be wrong, Long just gave up the engine.

Something was wrong.
Carl Long, a part-time driver that has likely sold fewer team T-shirts in his career than Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car number old or new, was slapped with a $200,000 fine after NASCAR found his engine to be too big during last weekend's All-Star festivities.

The dollar figure was the largest ever docked by the sanctioning body, and very easily could end Long's racing career.
Long appealed the punishment, but did not get very far with that. FanHouse's Geoffrey Miller opines.
There's no doubting that the rules are the rules in this case, and somehow NASCAR was able to measure such a minuscule difference to confirm the engine was oversize. But while numbers are black and white, the factors that can expand an engine block blur that to a gray area.

Remember, Long had blown the engine in practice, meaning that there was likely a ton of heat and pressure in the block. Add in the fact that the engine was purchased used from an engine supplier who had bought it used, and the conditions couldn't be more ideal to find an engine that had grown oversize (and according to Long, at least 50 horsepower less than his competition) by the slimmest of margins.

Those slim margins, it seems, will be costing Long part of his career.
It's the equivalent of taking out an ant hill with a sledgehammer, followed by lighter fluid and a blowtorch.

Yes, NASCAR needs to enforce its rules and punish offenders. What they shouldn't be doing is playing games with the careers of guys who just want to race as much as they can.

Not only that, but we have yet to receive any proof that a big-time racer would receive the same punishment for the same infraction. In fact, we can't even be convinced that NASCAR would ever have the grapefruits to punish a big name like this, no matter the rules infraction.

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