Long Gone At Ultra

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Driver Mike Wallace has already been told he doesn’t have job next season with the No. 7 NationsRent Ford team at Ultra Motorsports.

Crew chief Jim Long won’t, either.

A veteran crew chief of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Long turned in his resignation to team owner Jim Smith this week after a disappointing performance through the first 26 races of the 2001 season.

Smith’s team stands 36th in the Winston Cup owner points standings heading into this Sunday’s MBNA Cal Ripken Jr. 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway. Wallace is 38th in the driver points standings.

Long will be temporarily replaced in the crew chief position by NASCAR veterans Scott Lepage and Buddy Barnes.

Lepage has been car chief for Ultra Motorsports, while Barnes has been heading up the research and development program. Barnes has been a crew chief in both the Winston Cup and Busch Series previously.

“We’re moving forward,” Smith said. “We’re not quitting, we’re not stopping. We’re going to keep doing everything we can do to be successful. Both Buddy and Scott have plenty of experience and they know how to run a race team.”

Long first became a Winston Cup crew chief in 1994 with Kyle Petty. He’s also spent full seasons with Lake Speed, Ricky Rudd and Geoffrey Bodine in addition to Wallace. Rudd and Long combined for two Winston Cup victories in 1997.

The No. 7 Ultra Motorsports Ford team has struggled all season and has had three different drivers in the car. Wallace has driven 20 races, while Robby Gordon ran twice and Ted Musgrave drove once.

Gordon was able to post the team’s best finish – second at Sears Point in June. Wallace’s best finish was sixth in the season-opening Daytona 500.

After finishing 12th at Darlington on Sept. 2, Wallace finished 42nd at Richmond on Sept. 8.

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