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Talladega inspection process goes smoothly

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Chad Knaus shook his head on Thursday as he looked at the rear wing of Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet.

"They say those are supposed to be the tools they're going to give us to work with," he said, looking at the side plates and wicker already mounted on the spoiler. "Now they've taken those tools away and there is nothing to work with."

Unlike other Car of Tomorrow races, NASCAR passed out mandated side plates and wickers for Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Those were the only two major areas on the car in the past where crew chiefs could make adjustments to affect air flow. So instead of being able to choose between a curved or flat side plate, teams were mandated flat ones.

Knaus wasn't exactly thrilled.

"They wanted to make everybody the same," he said. "They don't want somebody to think somebody has an advantage on them, which is kind of against the way the sport was built.

"Last I checked it was our job to build the best race car," he said.

Side plates and wickers aside, the inspection process at Talladega went off without a hitch.

About half the field, including the top 12 teams competing for the championship, passed with only a few having to make minor adjustments to be legal.

The rest of the field will be inspected before Friday morning's first practice.

"It's been pretty routine," series director John Darby said.

NASCAR's biggest concern before Sunday now is the size of the restrictor plate hole. It is larger than the hole teams used during the spring race, creating 75 to 80 percent more horsepower.

But many believe the governing body will reduce the size after Friday's two practices to lower speeds. Darby said the difference could be as minor as a 64th of an inch, about the thickness of a matchbox cover.

"We could change them between practices if we felt it was necessary," Darby said. "But likely we'll wait, if we do anything, until after the second practice so nobody has an advantage."

David Newton covers motorsports for ESPN.com