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NASCAR Notebook for Friday

by Dave Grayson
Friday, May 22, 2009

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Over the past few days we have witnessed a record setting NASCAR penalty regarding rule violations against the Car of Tomorrow and apparently the NASCAR version of the Cabbage Patch doll is on the way. With that thought in mind let's begin with:

WHAT's UP with Carl Long Racing? This part-time Sprint Cup team somehow managed to set an all-time NASCAR record. Unfortunately the record was the highest penalty ever assessed by NASCAR officials for rule violations pertaining to the Car Of Tomorrow, COT. The Long team was cited for actions detrimental to stock car racing and equipment not conforming to NASCAR rules. Specifically the problem was the car's engine size. NASCAR rules state the maximum engine size for the COT is 358.00 cubic inch displacement, CID. The engine in the Long car measured 358.17 CID

That extra 17/100ths CID resulted in the team's crew chief, Charles Swing, getting fined $200,000. He was also suspended from participating in the next 12 NASCAR events on the schedule, suspended from participating in any NASCAR sanctioned events until August 16th, and was placed on probation until December 31st.

The record shattering fine also impacted driver Carl Long and team owner Danielle Long. Each were docked 200 driver and owner's points, suspended from the next 12 races, suspended from participating in any NASCAR events through August 16th and placed on probation through the end of the year.

From a prepared statement issued last Thursday, Carl Long said his immediate concern was with crew chief Charles Swing who was admitted to a Georgia hospital last Monday with reported heart problems.

Regarding the engine issue, Long said that it was purchased from a very reputable engine builder last January and he had no reason to believe that anything was wrong with it. During the practice session, held last Saturday for the Sprint Cup All-Star Race, Long's engine began overheating to the point that it was going to blow up. The decision to change the engine was made, the car was resubmitted for tech inspection and that's where the extra .17 CID was discovered.

Although Long maintains that he purchased the engine in good faith that it would pass inspection, he does concede that the extra 0.17 CID is as wrong as a 400 CID motor while adding, "I would never intentionally bring a big motor to the race track."

Long's prepared statement concluded by saying, "This suspension has not only stopped me from racing, it has also hurt me with my everyday job. It's hard to make a living working at the race track when NASCAR will not let you in. I can only hope that the appeal board will see things differently than the ones who came up with this penalty. I don't consider myself a cheater. I am addicted to the worst drug ever: RACING! Every dime we have been able to scrape up we have used to race because we love this sport. It takes about a half a million dollars in equipment to be able to build an engine, so I have to rely on other people and this time it bit me. Thanks for supporting me during wherever this goes."

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Turning now to something considerably more positive let's send a never before issued quadruple THUMBS-UP and GOD BLESS to Katie and Matt Kenseth. The couple is preparing to welcome their first child in approximately six weeks. Matt has a soon to be 16 year old son, Ross, and apparent future race driver, from a previous relationship. The couple opted to wait until the baby's arrival to see if it's a boy or a girl.

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On the subject of future NASCAR kids THUMBS-UP to a soon to be released collection of dolls called "NASCAR Kids." NASCAR has teamed up with Appalachian Art Works who are creating Cabbage Patch style dolls in the likeness of their most popular Sprint Cup drivers. Famed toymakers JAKKS Pacific will manufacture the dolls. The very first doll will feature the likeness of Dale Earnhardt Jr and will be debuted Friday night on the QVC shopping network's "For Race Fans Only" program. A Jeff Gordon doll is expected to be introduced later this fall. As in the true spirit of Cabbage Patch dolls, you don't purchase them you adopt them. The adoption fee for the NASCAR Kids is $45.

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THUMBS-UP to Roush Fenway Racing's Greg Biffle for his continued support of the American Red Cross and their racing program. During Sunday's Coca Cola 600 weekend Biffle will be a spokesman for the Red Cross to help increase the awareness of the need for blood donors. Biffle is a longtime member of the organization's National Celebrity Cabinet. The Red Cross logo will be on Biffle's #16 Ford both Sunday and again at the Atlanta race in September. An additional THUMBS-UP goes out to Biffle's primary sponsor, 3M, who relinquished the advertising space on the race car in order to support this cause.

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THUMBS-UP to NASCAR icon Bill Elliott who will be making his 800th career start, in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600, behind the wheel of the Wood Brothers Ford. Elliot ranks seventh on NASCAR's all time list for Sprint Cup starts. Topping that list is King Richard Petty with 1,184 starts.

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THUMBS-UP to Ryan Newman for winning the Coors Light Pole for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. Newman toured the Lowe's Motor Speedway's 1.5 mile oval, in his #39 U.S. Army/Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, at 188.475 MPH. It was the "Rocket Man's" first pole of 2009, the first ever pole for Stewart-Haas, his eighth pole at Lowe's and 44th career pole position. It also marked the ninth consecutive season that Newman has won at least one pole.

Another THUMBS-UP goes out to the U.S. Army/Stewart-Haas Racing team for rolling out the red carpet for Sgt First Class Joseph Goodloe a Green Beret and decorated war hero who will be the team's VIP guest on pit road this Sunday. The special operations soldier had been awarded four bronze stars and one bronze star with valor during his career. He has completed four tours in Afghanistan, during Operation Enduring Freedom, and three tours in Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He's currently an instructor for the U.S. Army's Sniper School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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Finally this last item could either be a THUMBS-UP or a WHAT's UP depending on how you look at it. It seems that Jeff Gordon is currently leading the NASCAR television sponsor exposure rankings based on seven top ten finishes, and one win, over the course of ten televised events. The sponsor brands, represented by Gordon, has accumulated 12 hours, 27 minutes and 10 seconds of national television exposure. However this race is still too close to call. Gordon only has a lead of less than 90 minutes over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Believe it or not someone actually compiles all of this TV data. That someone is Joyce Julius and Associates who measures the scope of sponsorship exposure across all forms of the media. The firm's latest report states that Gordon's statistics are based on in focus camera shots of sponsor logos on his car, his driver's uniform and the uniforms worn by his pit crew.

Then again maybe this is a WHAT's UP.

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