ANDERS: Long's sponsor mix-up just more unwanted attention
By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, May 13, 2017
This can’t be the way I’m sure Carl Long was looking to break back into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
If you’re not an ardent NASCAR fan, you may have never heard Long’s name, or possibly forgotten it. Saturday night’s race at Kansas Speedway was Long’s first Cup start since 2009, when he was fined $200,000 for attempting to qualify for the All-Star Race with an engine that was 0.17 cubic inches larger than the NASCAR limit.
Unable to pay the hefty fine, Long was barred from Cup competition, though he has made numerous Xfinity Series and Truck Series starts in the years since. After finally having reached what he called an “agreement” on the fine, Long picked up a sponsor in Veedverks, a vape company based in Denver, Colo. (I’ll get to that in a second), and headed to Kansas to make his first Cup start in eight years.
Long took the blame for the engine infraction in 2009, though he said he had purchased the engine from an outside supplier. He drew industry sympathy for his plight, a proverbial “little guy” that received a heavy-handed punishment from NASCAR. News of his return this week was met with positivity. Here was a guy who paid his debt by being denied the opportunity to do what he wanted to do — simply race at the sport’s top level.
Surely, he rolled into Kansas looking for an unassuming weekend.
That’s not what he got.
Here’s how Long’s return drew more attention than I’m sure he was hoping for.
Any sponsor on a NASCAR vehicle is subject to approval by the sport’s sanctioning body. Long struck a deal with the aforementioned Veedverks. According to a lengthy post Saturday to his Facebook page, in his haste to prepare his ride for Kansas, he didn’t do all the due diligence he should have regarding the company.
Long claimed in the Facebook post that submitted the sponsor for approval thinking the company’s name was “Veeoverks,” thinking the “D” in its logo was a “O” (in glancing at the logo, it’s easy to see how it could have been possible to do that). NASCAR, unable to find information on the company with the incorrect name, approved the sponsor when Long told them it was a company that sold “vapes,” or electronic cigarette-type equipment, out of Denver.
The problem arose when Long got to Kansas with his car, emblazoned with the Veedverks logo on the hood. NASCAR looked into the company again and found it does sell vape cartridges — which contain THC, the main psychoactive in marijuana, and “trace amounts of other cannabinoids,” according to its website.
NASCAR nixed the sponsorship, forcing Long’s team to remove the Veedverks logo from its hood.
Now, Long claimed the whole mix-up was just an oversight in the rush to get his Kansas effort funded and off the ground. It’s not a capital case by any stretch and was easily rectified by NASCAR simply having them remove the sponsorship. No matter what your opinion of the legalization of marijuana, the topic is a polarizing one and the sport has the right to determine if a sponsor is promoting a product that it doesn’t want to be associated with.
For a guy who has spent eight years in the doghouse with NASCAR, it’s hard to believe Long would go to lengths to do something like this intentionally. Conversely, it’s hard to believe he would want to do anything other than fly under the radar this weekend.
Long is 49 years old and has never won a Cup Series race. In fact, arguably his most noteworthy moment was barrel-rolling down the backstretch at Rockingham in 2004, not what any driver would want to have as their shining moment at the sport’s highest level.
This weekend was supposed to be simple, about a guy getting back to doing what he loves and trying to compete with the big dogs. Maybe soon, Long will be able to do that with no odd occurrences or distractions.
I’m sure that’s what he was hoping for this weekend.
Despite starting 29th because of not making it through tech, I still like the way the 48 team is running. Plus, he’s won more times at Kansas (3) than any other driver.
PICK: Jimmie Johnson.
Contact Jordan Anders at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9594 or follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.