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Mears not angry with buddy Johnson after accident

Mears not angry with buddy Johnson after accident

If only NASCAR race cars came with a turn signal and hazard lights.
Casey Mears was slowing down for a pit stop when teammate and friend Jimmie Johnson bumped into him from behind and sent him slamming into the wall in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday.
That relegated Mears, who was running with the leaders when he crashed, to 39th place. But he didn't get riled up at Johnson, who finished second behind another Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon.
"I thought we had pretty good communication and we were all going to come in that lap," Mears said. "I was waving off down the backstretch and thought it was pretty clear that I was coming in. I know that Jimmie wouldn't do something like that. We are too good of friends for that."
Johnson said he was simply unaware Mears was preparing to pit. He chalked it up to miscommunication.
"We need to figure out why I was never told he was pitting," the reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion said. "I'm not sure why I couldn't see Casey waving me off. It's real tough to see waving through the back of vehicles, but I really had no idea he was pitting."
Team owner Rick Hendrick called the two "best friends" and chalked it up to a mistake. He said the team would work on communicating better, starting on Monday.
"Jimmie feels horrible," Hendrick said. "That (Mears) team needed a good run and they were getting it. That was a problem somewhere in our organization because everybody knows when we're pitting and we relay that to the spotters."
Hendrick and Mears both said race winner Jeff Gordon's spotter got the message.
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QUALIFYING CHANGES: NASCAR is considering changing its qualifying procedures in response to complaints about the restrictive system.
With at least 50 drivers vying for 43 spots in the field, seven or more cars fail to make the race each week. Because NASCAR assures a spot to the top 35 drivers in points, only eight positions are actually up for grabs.
The policy has crippled several drivers this season, particularly Michael Waltrip, who missed his eighth consecutive race on Sunday. Waltrip spent the past week lobbying for a variety of changes that could help him get into the field.
NASCAR is listening.
"We're looking at a lot of different scenarios," competition director Robin Pemberton said. "There's things that we're looking at and we're listening to the competitors. If we were to make a change we'd have to put our own twist on it, to make it fair for all competitors."
Qualifying has been magnified this season because so many big-money teams are going home each week. Also missing Sunday's race was Brian Vickers, who won here last October, and A.J. Allmendinger, his teammate on the new Team Red Bull.
But Pemberton said changes to the procedures would not create an automatic fix.
"At the end of the day, no matter what you do, if you have 50 teams entered, seven cars are going home no matter what," Pemberton said.
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PROGRESS: Kurt Busch finally got something to cheer in a difficult season. The former series champion finished third behind Gordon and Johnson.
It was Busch's first top-five finish in nine races this season and second top 10. He moved up from 13th to 10th in the Cup series with the strong showing, managing to steer clear of trouble in his No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge.
Busch is hoping this was the start of a run of good fortune.
"If we had a little bit of Lady Luck, I think we could have had three top fives in a row, maybe even a win at Texas," Busch said. "So over time things even out, and that's the motto we're taking.
"We feel like we're making better race cars, making better decisions out on the race track, and eventually we'll be a contender."
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SPARK PLUGS: Mechanical problems, not a competitor, sent rookie Juan Pablo Montoya into the wall late in the race. "Something broke in the steering, in the suspension, and it went straight into the wall," said Montoya, who felt he had a "top-10 car."


Updated : 2021-05-10 01:55 GMT+08:00