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The racing organization conceded Monday that water got into the fuel supply of more than two cars during the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, apparently leading to a crash that took out several top contenders in the closing laps.

Denny Hamlin was leading the Pep Boys Auto 500 with three laps to go when his car stalled while taking the green flag after a caution period. Martin Truex, who led the most laps Sunday, smashed into the back of Hamlin's car and finished 31st. Hamlin slipped to 24th.

Both were in the Chase for the championship.

``There are multiple teams that are showing positive for some level of water contamination level in their fuel,'' said John Darby, NASCAR's Nextel Cup director. ``I can't tell you the exact number. It's more than two and less than (the full field of) 43 at the moment.''

Darby dismissed sabotage as a possible explanation, saying too many teams were affected for anyone to have been singled out.

``For those who have their evil, twisted conspiracy hats on, we want to put that to rest,'' Darby said. ``If it was sabotage, it would have to be the kind of thing where someone hates NASCAR racing across the board.''

He said extensive testing done by Sunoco, NASCAR's official fuel supplier, showed no signs of problems in the underground storage tanks at the suburban Atlanta speedway. The problem likely occurred in the piping that runs from the tanks to the pumps, or in the pumps themselves, which teams use to fill the high-tech cans that are used for fueling.

``It's a brownish-colored water,'' Darby said. ``If it was just water, it would be more clear. That should help us understand if it came from a failed pipe or a failed pump or some other source that allowed it to enter the fuel.''

In a ``huge majority'' of cars that tested positive for water in their fuel systems, the amount was so small that it didn't affect performance. For example, winner Jimmie Johnson had water in his carburetor during the post-race inspection.

But the contamination was enough to affect at least two drivers: Hamlin and Dave Blaney, who had performance issues all day and finished 38th, 66 laps behind Johnson.

After a yellow flag came out late in the race, Hamlin stayed on the track, believing he had enough fuel to get to the finish and more concerned about his tires holding up.

But, as he crept slowly toward the start-finish line to take the green, his car began to sputter.

``When I hit the gas, it took off, then it stopped. It took off again, then it stopped,'' Hamlin said. ``I was just waiting for the hit from behind.''

The team suspected early in the race that water had gotten into the fuel, but didn't have any way to address the problem. The result was a wild melee that took out some of the strongest cars.

``We weren't getting the full potential on fuel,'' Hamlin said, standing alongside his wrecked car after the race. ``I don't know how it got in there. We just poured what we had out of carburetor, and it was a good amount -- a very, very good amount -- of water in there. Even the bolts were oxidized.''

Darby said it may take a month to determine exactly what happened to the fuel in Atlanta, but he pointed out the same supply was used for Monday's testing sessions at 1.5-mile oval. There were no problems.

``We think this is pretty much a one-off, isolated problem,'' Darby said.

A truck series race also was held in Atlanta over the weekend. As part of its investigation, NASCAR asked those teams Monday to break down their fuel systems and determine if any water got in the carburetors.

Darby found it striking that such a problem occurred in Georgia, which is in the grips of a record-breaking drought. If nothing else, NASCAR should be able to eliminate one potential problem as the culprit.

``From reading the news,'' he said, ``this is about the last place you would think groundwater contamination is going to occur in the fuel system.''
 

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I vote they fine NASCAR and Sunoco $1,000,000.00 make them sit out for four races, bring back the old school cars and fuel from Exxon. (For viotaltions detramental to stock car racing!) And have a real chase to the championship! Oh and make restitution to Truex, Hamlin, and Blaney and all the other cars that got damaged during the race! Yea, Nascar see nobody is perfect but if it would have been your prescious COT car you would have been quick to point a finger at the race teams!!!!
 

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fishin4cars said:
I vote they fine NASCAR and Sunoco $1,000,000.00 make them sit out for four races, bring back the old school cars and fuel from Exxon. (For viotaltions detramental to stock car racing!) And have a real chase to the championship! Oh and make restitution to Truex, Hamlin, and Blaney and all the other cars that got damaged during the race! Yea, Nascar see nobody is perfect but if it would have been your prescious COT car you would have been quick to point a finger at the race teams!!!!
Well said!!
 

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I bet it was Theresa Earnhardt.
 

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I'll bet it was the guys chasing Dave Blaney for the 35th spot in points. It really hurt him. They had to go to the garage and take the carb off and drain the fuel, and replace it. By that time they were enough laps down that they were totally screwed. They ran comparable lap times w/Truex the rest of the race after they fixed the water problem.
I think NASCAR oughta have to do something for him and the other guys effected. If they insist that everybody use Sunoco fuel, then they are at fault for any problems. If you had a choice and chose wrong and got bad fuel, that would be another thing. I have always thought that when the tires make guys crash cause they blow for no apparant reason, but the guys have no alternative, since there are no other brands available to use. Let Hoosier or Goodrich in the sport and the tire problems would be less. JMO, But this water thing pisses me off big time. It's a good thing Dave didn't fall outta the top 35 because of it....
 

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Just pathetic, they need to just keep all this crap how it was back in the 01 and 02 seasons and so on. This crap they do now is just pathetic. Lets keep the racing the way it should be.
 

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Seriously, Since NASCAR can and does fine the crew chiefs, the owners, and the drivers. Can they in turn file for a restitution back from NASCAR, or Sunoco for the damages that occured due to the water being in the fuel. That should be their responsibility since they don't allow the teams to bring there own fuel to the track. Shouldn't it?
 

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#1 "BLANIAC"
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Not talking about them fining themselves. That is ludicris. BUT they should compensate the drivers that were effected through no fault of their own. JMHO......I'm just a FAN, nothing big to NASCAR.
 

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Who's responsible for the fuel containers at Atlanta? Atlanta Motor Speedway? Sonoco? NASCAR? Have to answer that question before anything else. It ruined Hamlin's day, but things like that happen. Remember the TV transponder for Robby Gordon at Watkins Glen a few years ago? It happens.
 

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Good point, but it came real close to knocking Dave outta the top 35 again, as he had trouble right outta the box w/water. He ended up like 62 laps down due to having to tear the carb off and drain the fuel system. After the problem was corrected, he ran the same lap times as Truex (and at times (alot) faster), who was the class of the field until the end when they had that crappy pit call.
I really don't know what they could do about after the fact though, but it sure has a tendancy to "Tighten my Jibbs" when shit like this happens. If a driver/team beneifits from something, NASCAR polices that quickly and with an Iron Hand. But if something unfairly effects the Drivers/teams finish, NASCAR has no responsiibility. Just seems screwed up to me.
 
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