NASCAR scrutiny getting broader on small teams

Governing body plans to inspect the first car that drops out of the race without an accident

March 03, 2010

When Carl Long's car failed a post-race inspection in Charlotte last year, he screamed NASCAR was picking on him.

"I feel like I'm being raped and everybody in the world is watching," Long said in an outrageous comment last year. "Nobody will step forward and help me. We're waiting for the police to get here, but it's the police who are doing it."

A chorus of sympathizers stood by Long as NASCAR fined his team $200,000 and suspended him for 12 races. Long is the little guy. He just wanted to keep racing. His car didn't even win a race. He didn't know the engine was too big. It was only one-sixth of an inch too big.

Etc., etc., etc.

Expect more of the same types of complaints ringing out now that NASCAR will be inspecting more of those small, underfunded teams' engines.

Instead of just inspecting the top finishing cars and one random car, NASCAR now plans to inspect the first car that drops out of the race without having been in an accident.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said the rule had nothing to do with so-called start-and-park teams that make the race then drop out after a few laps.

It, however, will have an impact on those teams. They will have to spend more money on their engines if theirs is inspected. And if they're caught with illegal engines, they'll suffer more than larger teams that can absorb a financial penalty easier.

At that point they might make the same case Long did, as the little guy being picked on.

But if the little guys want to race with the big boys, they have to play by big-boy rules.

Defense of dominance: A few days before he won Sunday's race in Las Vegas, Jimmie Johnson took exception with those who say his dominance is bad for NASCAR.

Good for him.

"We all look at sports and say, 'Shaun White is the best in snowboarding and dominates,' " Johnson said. "Does it hurt their sport? No. If you look at golf, granted Tiger (Woods) has some different issues now, but before that, did it hurt golf?

"No. You go through tennis (Roger) Federer, did it hurt that sport? No, it helped."

10 things we learned

this week

1. Johnson doesn't always need that infamous golden horseshoe. Sometimes he's just that good.

2. The No. 20 Home Depot car is back to being the best in the Joe Gibbs Racing stable … young Joey Logano is getting it there.

3. Geoff Bodine played a part in Olympic history. The American four-man bobsled team won its first gold medal since 1948 in a Bo-Dyn bobsled, a company Bodine co-founded.

4. Danica Patrick has a long way to go.

5. Richard Childress Racing didn't stop its upward climb in Las Vegas as Kevin Harvick finished second Sunday.

6. Juan Pablo Montoya's wife Connie can dish it out just as well as he can. She wondered on Twitter if the McDonald's clown was driving Jamie McMurray's No. 1 car. JPM wasn't happy with his teammate either.

7. Sometimes those things seem like a bigger deal on the outside than they really are. Teammates fight, then they text and make up.

8. Las Vegas Motor Speedway sure can draw a crowd. Its showing was great news for NASCAR.

9. Kim Kardashian stands out at a race track. Think Mike Bliss wears her perfume?

10. Jeff Gordon isn't done yet.

- Tania Ganguli

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