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“In road course racing, when you get inside that final window you have contact,” added five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who had a run-in with Burton last year at The Glen. “It happens. The sport is at the point now where it’s so competitive. You race with each other and you want to react.”

With the race to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup title winding down _ there are five races left before the cutoff _ the chances of more mayhem on Sunday are very real.

“The opportunity’s there for chaos to happen,” said Bowyer, who sits 12th in points and can’t afford a slipup if he hopes to make NASCAR’s postseason for the third straight year. “That’s the biggest thing. There’s so much on the line, so much to be gained and so much to be lost on these restarts. It’s a tough one to juggle.”

The top 10 drivers in the point standings and the two drivers with the most victories in 11th to 20th place earn wild-card spots for the Chase. Right now, the wild cards would go to Brad Keselowski, who sits 18th in points but has two wins, and Denny Hamlin, who is 11th with one win.

Hamlin was 22nd in Friday’s first Cup practice but stepped it up a little bit in Happy Hour later in the day. There’s no substitute for starting up front on a road course because those drivers can usually get some separation from the rest of the pack. The farther away the better, and Hamlin knows it.

“I think people have a different mind-set,” Hamlin said. “Honestly, I think that people think that they can run over guys on road courses and not have repercussions like they do on the ovals. I think on the ovals when it happens, you know you’ve got one coming, where on a road course people think, ‘Oh, that’s OK to run over the guy in front of me. He’ll get over it.’

“It’s true. Guys do not show each other very much courtesy on these tracks, but it’s just part of hard racing.”

And Hamlin has the perfect solution.

“After the last road course race in Sonoma, I told my crew chief, ‘Build me a tank. Build me something I can hit guys and slam into guys and I can be hit without my car falling apart,’” Hamlin said. “You just know that it’s part of racing nowadays.”