Long to appeal NASCAR discipline
CONCORD, N.C. -- Sprint Cup driver Carl Long plans to appeal his 12-week suspension and the $200,000 fine against his crew chief Charles Swing, the largest in the sport's history.
"This suspension has not only stopped me from racing, it has also hurt me with my everyday job,'' Long said in a statement on his Web site. "It's hard to make a living working at the race track when NASCAR will not let you in. I can only hope the appeal board will see things differently than the ones that came up with this penalty.
"I don't consider myself a cheater.''
Long added that Swing has been admitted to a hospital for heart problems since the suspension.
"He is a stay-at-home dad who loves to go racing,'' he said.
NASCAR penalized Long because the engine he used during last weekend's preliminary to the All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway was too big for specification.
Long also was docked 200 points. That puts him at minus-200, since he had none.
The governing body has very tight rules around engine size and considers it a "serious violation.''
"We purchased an engine from a reputable builder at the beginning of the season,'' Long 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.''
The engine, Long said, was measured at 358.15 cubic inches, 0.17 above specifications.
"This engine is 50 horsepower less than top teams, but it was all that could be afforded,'' Long said. "I would have never knowingly went to the race track with a big engine.''
Long did not comment on whether the penalties will keep him away from the sport once the suspension is over. He has just 23 career Cup starts and hasn't qualified for a points race since 2006.
He finished last in the 35-car field on Saturday, dropping out after three laps because of an engine problem.
"Every dime that we have been able to scrape up we use to race because we love the sport,'' Long said. "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.''
"We have seen over the years an escalation in penalties, an escalation in money," driver Jeff Burton said of the penalties against Long and Swing. "Big engines are something NASCAR seems to have no tolerance for. That's a really, really big penalty, especially for Carl and the financial situation they're in. Tall fences make great neighbors. Big rules make people not cheat."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.