NASCAR Penalizes Smith

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TALLADEGA, Ala. - A NASCAR penalty for passing below the yellow line in the closing moments of the final lap of the AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway cost rookie Regan Smith his first Sprint Cup victory.

NASCAR penalized Smith for passing race winner Tony Stewart below the line and demoted the driver of the No. 01 Chevrolet to 18th position.

Two-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who finished ninth and expanded his lead in the points standings to 72 over second-place Carl Edwards, said after the race that he would have done the same thing Smith did.

"Here's what happened," Johnson said. "(Saturday) it was brought up in the truck series race (in the TV commentary). Everybody was watching it. Everybody said, 'Oh, all right.' Everybody went off and asked their questions where they needed to and kept that advice and that knowledge in their back pocket, just in case they were in position to win the race."

That notion had a basis in fact. After Johnny Benson improved from third to second in a truck series race at Daytona in February 2007, two NASCAR spokespersons indicated "anything goes" on the final lap within sight of the checkered flag.

Consequently, Johnson wouldn't have hesitated if he had been in Smith's position.

"Without a doubt, especially with the rumors floating around this morning before the race," Johnson said. "And as late as he made the move, it appeared to me that he did what he was supposed to do."

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