Carl Long looking to get back on track

Eight months after a $200,000 fine crippled Long's self-owned team and sent shockwaves through the sport, he's struggling to survive amidst a cavalcade of hard-luck circumstances. "Last year's deal" involved a crippling penalty that still puzzles most in the NASCAR garage. Bringing his self-owned #46 to an exhibition race, the All-Star Showdown, Long's car cooked an engine and headed to the garage by Lap 3. But during a random teardown in post race inspection, NASCAR discovered that its motor exceeded size limits by 0.17 cubic inches. NASCAR dropped a 20-ton anvil on Long, suspending him for 12 races while slapping on a 200-point penalty and $200,000 fine. It was an immediate death knell for a team without a sponsor, whose 35th-place finish that day only paid five grand. Banned from the Cup track over the summer, Long focused on his family away, putting his own team aside while working a full-time job as utility man for Front Row Motorsports. It wasn't his dream, but it remained a way to earn a living in NASCAR as he looked to rebuild his future. In mid-November, Front Row made end-of-season cutbacks with the # 34, and Long was among those let go. Still, Long trudges on, telling his story and begging for work to anyone in the business who'll listen. Just a few weeks back, he seemed to land a job as a start-and-park driver for a Nationwide team — something he's been adamantly against doing throughout his career — but the spot went to a "better fit." Right now, that's easier said than done. As a contract employee, Long was unable to collect unemployment, and was recently scammed $1500 by a job hunting service that took him to small claims court. That leaves the underdog in desperate straits, selling off his Cup car and paying his bills by dipping into the money that was raised by fans for his fine. With Speedweeks looming, Long's plan is to drive an ARCA hauler down for rookie Sean Corr, using the first week at Daytona to network and search for any NASCAR job he can find. He still has a Nationwide car he hopes to bring to the track someday, but whether he'll ever get back in Cup with his own team seems unlikely at best. Sports Illustrated

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