Good Ol' Boys - NASCAR

Short Day for Long
By Doug Belliveau and Frank Ryan
September 26, 2000

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Carl Long, driver of the #85 Mansion Motorsports Ford Taurus, had a short taste of his Winston Cup dream on Sunday. After making the field with a provisional, Long made his first Winston Cup start of the year at the MBNA.com 400 at the Monster Mile. Unfortunately, his 2000 debut was cut short when he was involved in an accident on lap 12, effectively ending his day and finishing in 41st place.

Carl Long's number 85 car with that unfinished look. Hopefully he will return to compete again soon.
Photo Copyright 2000 AutoRacing1.com and Doug Belliveau

"There was a wreck in front of me," said Long, "I was right on Stacy Compton. I got all over the brakes trying to get off of him, and I don't whether I got tapped from behind or the back wheels just locked up, but either way, the back end just come around and got out from under me, and hit the infield wall. It's bad because the car was driving good. I had the wrong gear in it for second. The transmission had the wrong second gear and I was getting killed on the start. But it would get wound up and I could drive it as hard as it would go, and it was fast. I was like, 'This is going to be a good race.' I could pass 'em, but why try to do anything early? And I was right there with Stacy - I don't know who wrecked in front of me, but they all bottled up and got me."

How can you not like Carl Long? Growing up racing on North Carolina and Virginia short tracks, his dream was to run Winston Cup. He and his Mansion Motorsports team owner, Thee Dixon, are true independents in a world of multi-million dollar sponsorships. Dixon, a contractor from the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area has been in and out of NASCAR for the last 20 years. Some of the other drivers that Dixon has had drive for him have included Mike Skinner, Ken Bouchard, Dorsey Schroeder and the late Scott Brayton.

As you can imagine, the lack of funding has limited their attempts at qualifying this year. Sporting a Roush Racing car that was purchased at a sale, the Mansion Motorsports team attempted to qualify at Bristol and Pocono, but did not make either event. Then at the Coca-Cola 600 the team's hard work paid off with a 35th place qualifying effort, the very first of Carl Long's career. But Long would never start the event as a deal was struck that would place Darrell Waltrip behind the wheel of the #85 Taurus for the race. But the owner points gathered from the Coca-Cola 600, combined with some teams being out of provisional starting positions, placed them in the MBNA.com 400. And this time they would start the event.

While finishing in 41st position wasn't what they hoped for, the team did earn $40,000 and it should be a big boost to their racing program. With race sponsorship for Dover provided by NoopCo Paint Remover, this could be the start of bigger and better things.

"I really wanted to finish. That was the big thing I wanted to do, was finish. And with a car that good, I don't think I would've lost but maybe one lap, if even that. That's just because I was riding in the back being conservative."

Good luck next time Mr. Long. Sometimes it's nice to cheer for the underdog.

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