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Mikes And Bumps Are The Buzz At Bristol

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 15 2013

Jimmie Johnson knows where to take his complaints about new cars. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

BRISTOL, Tenn. –The buzz around Bristol Motor Speedway is Denny Hamlin’s decision to forego an appeal of the $25,000 fine he was docked by NASCAR for recent comments he made about the new Generation 6 car.

It is expected that NASCAR will collect the fine through a deduction of his race winnings.

Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said Friday there’s no doubt in his mind going forward over the proper protocol to follow when delivering any comments aimed at the new model car that could be construed as negative in nature.

“It’s crystal clear to me that if you have an issue about this car you go inside the (NASCAR) truck and talk about it,” Johnson said. “You don’t use one of these (points to microphone) or this room to communicate that. You go up into the truck and talk about it.”

There has been much discussion this season about how the front and rear bumpers on the Generation 6 car don’t align with one another.

Following the talk of the lack of bump drafting at Daytona last month, the discussion now turns to whether drivers can pull off the familiar bump-and-run maneuver in the new car in Sunday’s Food City 500, which is the Cup Series’ first short track event this season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., a previous race winner at Bristol, thinks it could come into play this weekend if a driver chooses to press the issue.

“I think the bump and run really never left,” he said. “It’s just if you can reach the guy on the last lap and be able to get an opportunity to get to his bumper. And it depends on the mentality and personality of the two drivers involved in that situation.”

Following a two-race suspension for uttering a racial slur at Daytona, Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements was back at the track on Friday.

He will drive his family-owned No. 51 Chevrolet in Saturday’s Jeff Foxworthy’s Grits Chips 300.

“NASCAR did what they had to do,” said Clements, who had to complete a counseling course. “I respect their decision and, like I said, I did everything they wanted me to do. I didn’t mean to offend anybody. I just want to try to move on now.”

Fellow Nationwide Series driver Michael Annett has also been absent from the circuit since Daytona last month. But his absence was due to an injury incurred during the season-opening event.

Annett, who is recovering from a cracked sternum, was in Bristol on Friday to update reporters on condition.

“I’m good, “Annett said. “Honestly, I feel like I could be putting my suit on right now and going over to the car and get ready for practice.

“Unfortunately, my sternum doesn’t feel the same way.”

Annett hopes to return to competition sometime during the month of May.

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 15 2013
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