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NASCAR Notebook

Associated Press
The NASCAR notebook …
MARTINSVILLE, Va. ó Jimmie Johnson says it’s “crazy” to suggest his reputation has been tarnished after crew chief Chad Knaus’ instructions to mess up the rear bumper if he won at Talladega last week.
Knaus was recorded telling the five-time champion that if he won, he needed to “crack the back of the car,” apparently to build in an explanation in case the car did not past post-race inspection. The website SBnation.com says it obtained the recording from a fan.
Johnson says Knaus’ instruction was “foolish.” He says other competitors know how hard his team has worked to win five consecutive championships, and that his car is the most scrutinized by NASCAR. He also says Knaus has never made such a suggestion to him before.
The Sprint Cup Series races at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.
FUEL-FIRE RULE
CHARLOTTE ó NASCAR has banned the use of power tools when teams are transferring fuel.
The decision Thursday is in response to a fuel fire next to Regan Smith’s hauler at Talladega Superspeedway. The fire broke out as spouts from gas cans were being removed so excess fuel could be poured into storage.
A spark from a power tool apparently ignited gas inside one can. No one was hurt in the fire, which sent thick clouds of black smoke through the garage.
There was no previous rule as to how the spouts could be removed. This is the first year these cans have been used.
The ban was issued by NASCAR Vice President Robin Pemberton and applies to all NASCAR series.
POPULAR CHASE
TALLADEGA ó There are a lot of different ways to remember the 2011 fall race at Talladega Superspeedway.
One can choose to look at last Sunday’s event as yet another installment of “Let’s Make A Deal.” Or perhaps the better title for this motorsports game show is “Let’s Break A Deal.”
Drivers work together, drivers promise to help each other, drivers change plans without alerting their partners, then whining ensues.
Despite rule changes implemented in an effort to break up two-car tandems, two-car tandems ruled the day until the last lap dictated that it was every man for himself.
Or, you can mark the race as the one that unofficially served as the ouster of Jimmie Johnson as the five-time champion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
With only four races to go in the Chase, Johnson is in seventh place in the standings and trails leader Carl Edwards by 50 points.
Johnson won’t make that deficit up.
Yes, it’s possible in theory and mathematically, but in reality you can forget about it.
The 2011 championship will be settled between Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick.
If you like to stay connected with tradition, the fact that Richard Childress Racing recorded its 100th victory on Sunday makes this 500-miler memorable.
Childress has a special place in the hearts of Talladega race fans because of his affiliation with the late Dale Earnhardt, so Clint Bowyer’s checker on Sunday was a popular one among many in attendance.

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