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But, Hamlin said, the drivers count on NASCAR to be on top of efforts to skirt the rules.

“If there’s any kind of impropriety, NASCAR doesn’t like that,” he said. “They don’t like the wool to be pulled over their eyes and it’s up to them to make sure we have a level playing field, and us, all other 42 competitors, want them to make sure that we’re all on the same level playing field and they’re going to do their best to make sure that that happens.”

For other drivers, like fifth-place Kevin Harvick, “It’s one of those things where you do what you have to do to try to win the championship and you suffer the consequences later.”

Having that chance to win the championship, he said, is hard to ignore.

“I am all for doing whatever you have to do to win the championship and sometimes you have to do what you have to do and what you think is right,” he said. “Some people may not agree, but at this point it is really all about trying to win the race and trying to win a championship.”

Johnson said the flap might cause him to be more careful with his car, especially if he wins to avoid giving the impression that he’s purposely damaging his car.

“I certainly hope to win and I guess it would cross my mind to think, `OK, be very gentle here. Park the car,’” he said, laughing. “But I hadn’t thought about it a bit.”