Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On not all illeglal engines being the same, aggressive driving, closing the deal, and the jinx of the fill-in PR rep

It wasn't long ago that Carl Long was penalized $200,000 for an engine violation during the All-Star race weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Long was driving a car with a third-hand engine that was destined to run at the back of the pack before the engine mercifully blew apart. NASCAR took that engine for some reason, and discovered it was seventeen-hundredths of an inch over the 358 cubic inch limit. "Illegal is illegal" was the NASCAR stance and Long was hit with the biggest penalty in NASCAR history.

Fast forward five months.

Roush Fenway Racing violated the NASCAR sealed engine rule.

The engine in question won the Nationwide race at Darlington in May, then was sealed to be used again at a later date. Since the engine won a race, after its second race it was to be torn down and inspected according to NASCAR rules. However, before it could be looked over by officials it was torn apart and rebuilt.

Team officials and NASCAR agreed that a clerical error led to the engine being disassembled prior to being inspected. Team officials did not appeal NASCAR's $30,000 fine or 100 point penalties to driver Matt Kenseth or owner Jack Roush.

While it's unlikely the engine was illegal, no one will ever know. A team with unlimited resources is tagged with a $30,000 fine, where the guy scraping along and rolling coins found in the couch cushions to race is pegged for $200 large.

That doesn't seem like a level playing field to me.

-Brad Keselowski didn't do himself any favors with his aggressive nature in winning at Memphis, but kudos go to Mike Bliss and Carl Edwards for their reactions to racing with Kes. Neither whined about the contact, but they simply said they would file it away and remember that the next time they were racing Brad with something on the line. There's nothing wrong with the bump-and-run, as long as you don't complain when it comes back at you. Somehow I have the feeling Brad won't be whining when Carl repays him somewhere down the road.

-Speaking of Keselowski, how cool is it that he won at Memphis? It wasn't all that long ago that Brad had the opportunity of a lifetime - subbing for Ted Musgrave, who was suspended for one race by NASCAR - at, of all places, Memphis Motorsports Park. Brad won the pole, led 62 laps that night, and was in the lead with a handful of laps to go when he was hit from behind and spun out of the lead. He ended up 16th that day back in 2007, but it put him on the radar screen and opened the door for the opportunities that followed.

-Congrats to Timothy Peters on picking up his first career Camping World Truck Series win at Martinsville. Tim's win should give hope to every short tracker out there with visions of making the big time and winning. It's harder than ever, but it can still be done. I had a chance to talk to Tim for a few moments at Iowa while I was on my three-race tour of duty with the HT Motorsports team and he said he drives to the shop from his home in Virginia every day. That's about two hours there, and two hours home. He does it so his guys know how much he wants it. Some (like me!) might think he's crazy, but there is no questioning Tim's commitment to be a winner and it finally paid off.

-Congrats to the HT Motorsports team for finally getting back into the top ten, as David Starr finished eighth and Terry Cook was tenth. I guess we know where the recent bad luck came from since it mysteriously ended when the fill-in PR guy returns to the couch!

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