Carl Long’s first Cup race since 2009 was quite an adventure

Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images
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A misspelled word made Carl Long and a potential sponsor the butt of jokes last weekend at Kansas Speedway, but even that didn’t diminish his first Cup race since 2009.

Long misspelled the company’s name when he submitted it to NASCAR for approval. The sanctioning body, which must approve all sponsors, approved Long’s sponsor based on the incorrect spelling.

Long spelled the company’s name Veeoverks, inserting an ‘o’ where there should have been a ‘d’ instead.

NASCAR saw the proper spelling on Long’s car and had him remove it after seeing the products it sold included trace amounts of THC, the principal psychoactive in marijuana.

“I guess I was a laughingstock of a lot of things … but nothing is wrong with people laughing,’’ Long told NBC Sports on Monday. “I made a mistake. If they got a laugh out of it, so be it.

“We got a little press out of it. Probably wasn’t as positive, but it just goes to show that even in the big sport of NASCAR and us racing, there is still that human element and one mistake a ‘d’ to an ‘o’ set off a chain of other stuff and all I can really do is laugh about it.’’

It was part of an adventuresome weekend in his return to the Cup series. He had been out since being unable to pay a $200,000 fine imposed for an oversized engine at what was then called the Sprint Open during the All-Star weekend in 2009. He and NASCAR came to an agreement before this season that allowed him to return to Cup.

Kansas was his first race back in the series since the penalty.

On the way to Kansas Speedway, his hauler was stopped twice at truck scales, once because the hauler’s tag was expired and once for not having the proper state permit. Long said both had been accidentally overlooked. Once rectified, Long and a fellow driver were back on the road.

Once at the track and in the Cup garage for the first time since 2009, Long said he felt at home.

“All the NASCAR officials … all of them were happy,’’ Long said for him to be back. “A bunch of different people from different teams congratulated us.’’

He missed the first practice session because he and his crew had work left on the car but he ran 14 laps in the second practice session. His team was among 11 that did not pass inspection in time to make a qualifying attempt. Since there were 40 cars, he had a spot in the field.

Long finished 31st in Saturday night’s race, two spots off his career high in the series. Long said he got faster as the race progressed and that was one of his goals for the weekend. He finished 11 laps behind winner Martin Truex Jr. but placed ahead of such drives as Ryan Newman and Joey Logano.

He finished a lap behind AJ Allmendinger and two laps behind Chase Elliott.

After loading the car and equipment into the hauler, Long was back on the road, driving the second shift from about 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sunday. The hauler arrived at the shop at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Long accomplished his biggest goal of running to the end and his car will be ready to compete in this weekend’s Monster Energy Open. He’ll drive it.

He plans to enter the car — the only Cup car he owns — for the Coca-Cola 600 and says he’s had about dozen inquiries from drivers and companies looking to get involved in his program. He will look to run the car when he can but the focus remains on the two-car Xfinity program he operates out of a 4,750-square foot shop in Statesville, North Carolina.

“It’s always an adventure here. We’re not vanilla, that’s not our flavor,’’ Long said, laughing about his weekend. “Overall, good weekend, proud to be back and now we hope we can build this team and organization to stick it out for a while.’’

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