Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Harvick’s championship berth spoiled by NASCAR inspectors

Kevin Harvick’s win Sunday at Texas no longer counts for automatic qualification into the championship raceMore Kevin Harvick’s win Sunday at Texas no longer counts for automatic qualification into the championship raceMore
Shannon Reynolds | 10 November, 2018, 09:31

Kevin Harvick's NASCAR Cup Series playoff spot is no longer guaranteed after his race-winning vehicle from Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway was found to have illegal alterations to the rear spoiler.

NASCAR said Wednesday the discovery made after Harvick's win negates the automatic berth he earned into the finale.

NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller revealed additional details on the L1-level penalty issued Wednesday to the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team, saying the spoiler on Kevin Harvick's vehicle was "absolutely, 100 percent, no question" not in compliance with the NASCAR Rule Book. Spoilers must be used exactly as supplied from the manufacturer and not altered. The infraction was discovered in postrace inspection at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. Additionally, Harvick has been docked 40 driver points and the team loses 40 owner points.

Harvick's victory at Texas was his series-leading eighth in 2018.

The stripping of all win bonuses, plus the championship point reduction, means that Harvick is now just three points above the cutline to advance into the Championship Race.

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ISM Raceway in Phoenix represents Harvick's best chance to get a win that would guarantee his spot in the championship race. Auto chief Robert Smith has also been suspended from the next two Cup Series races.

The stiff penalty on Harvick and SHR is for an issue related to the rear spoiler according to Section 20.4.12 of the NASCAR Rule Book.

Stewart-Haas Racing will not appeal the penalty. An inspector at Texas thought the spoiler looked off, but Miller said it had to be removed from the vehicle. Although this isn't the proper time for Martin Truex Jr. or Aric Almirola to get Logano back, if either one has his eligibility ended or becomes locked into the Championship 4, don't be surprised when cameras cut to Logano hitting the wall after one of those drivers, or even a new Logano hater, hits him to end his race. All three were expected to race for the championship, and none is qualified for Homestead yet with one race remaining.

"It is not our desire to issue any penalties but will do so when necessary to ensure each race and championship is contested on a level playing field", Miller said. Once the Harvick violation was discovered late Tuesday, NASCAR had to examine whether the violation was correct and didn't release its findings until the next day - two days before Harvick and his interim crew chief and vehicle chief will practice at Phoenix. Crew chief Chris Gayle is fined $50,000, and vehicle chief Jason Overstreet is suspended for the next two races.

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