CARL LONG (No. 85 Motorsports Designs, Inc., Noopco Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Long, a 34-year-old driver from Roxboro, N.C., will start 30th in Sunday's 43-car field. He's running a Petty Enterprises motor, and Travis Carter's team helped him...
(No. 85 Motorsports Designs, Inc., Noopco Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Long, a 34-year-old driver from Roxboro, N.C., will start 30th in Sunday's 43-car field. He's running a Petty Enterprises motor, and Travis Carter's team helped him with shocks. The car is owned by Thee Dixon. "I came here right after the Martinsville race and asked Kyle for his advice. I asked him if I was stuck in the mud. I'm coming here with inferior equipment. I made the race here, and I felt like I should have been on the pole. I didn't mess up nothing the last time I was here. In order for me to make the race, I had to have a pole-sitting lap. I didn't leave nothing on the table. It was a Ford owned by Thee Dixon. I asked Kyle if I should go to work for a team. My wife had been my biggest supporter with my kids. She got tired of it. Basically, I lost my wife Nancy because of racing. She had been my biggest supporter for 15 years. We've got two kids, and I'm as close to getting a full-time ride as I've ever been. It still seems like it's far away. I kept making steps and going forward, and then I got to a point and stopped. I talked to Kyle and went through it with him. He told me his engine program needed a lot of help. He thought Winston Cup was going to run roller cams next year. He wanted to do some research. He told me if I could build a car, he'd provide me with engine support. "Then the roller cam deal got cut out. The engine design isn't going to change, and I didn't get the car put together as quick as I wanted to. Norman Negre did most of the body work on it. He did aero research for eight or nine years. I had Kyle's baseline to start with. We didn't get to go to the wind tunnel with it. We were going to research what we did with the car against what Kyle did. If we improved it, he was going to change his car. If it didn't improve, then I knew I needed to go back and work on mine. With all the air force stuff and security clearances, we didn't get to go to the tunnel. We got it to the track, and now they may take it to the tunnel. I know my car is different, and the engine they built for me is one like they're going to run next year for the whole weekend. This engine is a test on that. I'm racing the qualifying motor to see where it goes. "I'm not giving up any horsepower to start the race on, and they think the cam combination is soft enough that it's not going to destroy the valves and this motor will last 600 miles -- 100 in the practice and qualifying stuff and 500 in the race. Keith Almond has been tuning the stuff. I may be down on horsepower compared to Robert Yates and Rick Hendrick. I don't know. All I know what they gave me is a lot more than I've ever had. "Darrell Waltrip bought my car last time here. He got out of the car, and I got to run the last 200 laps but the car wasn't set up for me. It was part Darrell's way and part my way. It just wasn't real comfortable. I've raced some here in ARCA and some Cup experience at Dover and Rockingham last year. I got in those by fault. People were out of provisionals, so we got in anyway and got a lot of lap time. The biggest thing I'm trying to do is put something on my resume. I can't carry sponsorship. If I had money, I'd do my own deal, but I don't have it. That's reality. I've got to go by my resume. The only way to do it is be here. "I'm not supposed to be in these races. I'm not supposed to make 'em. I'm just thinking if I can run close enough to scare 'em, maybe somebody would give me a chance. I left two or three tenths in turn one on the second lap. I had enough engine that I could miss a little bit and still make the race. Two tenths faster would have put me about 10th. That would have been really awesome, but we're not perfect every time and I wasn't perfect then. We had enough to recover. Travis' guys are helping with the suspension, and that's different than what Kyle is doing. I don't know what the shocks are, and it's better that way. "I started racing in 1983 at South Boston and Orange County Speedways driving Volkswagen Beetles. Ward Burton used to drive my other one. He crashed it, and he and I put it together back in the shop. It took me six years to get out of a VW Beetle and make it to Street Stock Class. I've always had to figure out how to do stuff without money. I spent three years in that class and won championships and then moved into Late Model Stock and spent six years in that class. Then I went to Slim Jim All-Pro. From that point, I went to Thee Dixon who had some trucks. "The only way I get rides is that I have to work on 'em and put 'em together for free so these guys don't have to pay somebody. So if I put 'em together, I can race 'em. I have to find the low dollar teams. I was supposed to have run a Ford here in ARCA, a Chevrolet in Busch and a Dodge in Winston Cup. This Dodge deal was so important to me, I had to cancel both the other deals to focus on this, and I'm glad I did. "Kyle's support is all in the engine program. Mr. Dixon went out on a limb. We bought the car from Travis Carter. It's not all the way through a new car. The frame is new and it's got new roll bar padding. I believe it'll make the race, but the most important thing for me is to make the race. Once I make it, it's like a dog chasing a truck. I've caught it. Now what do we do? "I competed in the International Truck Challenge this morning. I have to drive the hauler to the track, too. If I didn't make the Cup race, I wanted to be in one race this weekend, so I signed up for the Truck Challenge. It was fun to go out and do it. I think I turned the fastest speed, but I got disqualified. I missed the cones and took out some there. I wanted to get all I could get out of it. All of my guys being volunteer, when I wanted to go to the race track and go out and test or something, we had to download everything out of the hauler. My truck driver had a full time job and if we wanted to go somewhere during the week, he couldn't get off work. It was frustrating to unload everything and put in a small truck. I got my CDL. Mr. Dixon liked that, so I'm driving his hauler, too. "I'm proud to be in the race. I just hope come Sunday I don't need a relief driver. I've only had about 1,200 laps of racing this year. I've been under the car working and not working out. It worries me a little bit. If we get up front, I know I won't have a problem. "Scott Riggs and I raced together for years. I made it to All Pro and Scott was still in Late Model. We've always worked well together. I always felt that Scott was a little better qualifier than I was, but I always felt like I could catch him in the race. We always had a good run against each other. Scott just got the right break at the right time. He's a little bit younger than I am, and the Jeff Gordon syndrome killed me. Being older than him, he got a deal and look what he's done in the sport. "Some crew chiefs don't want drivers that have chassis knowledge. They want a driver to run a car in the corner and tell them what it did. That's job security. They don't have anybody to argue with them. If a driver doesn't make it, the driver is doing something wrong. When I go to an experienced crew chief, they don't want a driver that can tell them something. Ego is such a bad part of this sport. I just try to walk the fence and not burn any bridges. I'm receiving a lot of help. I know about the ego problems. "I want to finish the race with all four fenders on the car. I know we're going to get a little bit down, but I want to run competitive. I don't want to get lapped every 50 laps. I want to run strong. At the end of the day, I want somebody in here to notice me. I want somebody to give me a chance to drive their stuff or somebody to come around and offer to help me. I either want sponsorship to do what I'm doing in a better way or go to work for another team. I'm 34 years old, and opportunities are going to be between slim and none right now. If this thing hadn't panned out, I wouldn't have had anything to look forward to. If I had gone home Thursday night, I'd be doing something else. This is motivation enough for me to know I can do this. Look at the people I'm ahead of. They're champions. Maybe I'm not ready to be Winston Cup every weekend, but Busch or Truck or whatever. I just want to race competitively. "Noopco is a guy named Jim Flanagan from New Jersey. He gives me $2,5000 or $5,000 per race in the hope that I'll make the race. He sponsors me to qualify. I get him into the infield. He's got a small company for him to come by and say this is my Winston Cup car makes him happy. For him to make the race is a real bonus. I try to get 10 grand to go to the race. If I get 10 grand, if I don't make the race, they get their money's worth. If I make the race, they get all that for free. That's how I've been trying to sell it."