Friday, 16 November, 2018

Kevin Harvick’s race-winning vehicle fails inspection; had illegal spoiler during inspection

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
Cassandra Castillo | 08 November, 2018, 22:29

NASCAR can't prove if Stewart-Haas Racing made its own spoiler or altered one from its manufacturer, but senior vice-president of competition Scott Miller said the penalty is the same in either case.

After Harvick made the trip to Victory Lane, his auto was sent to the research and development center where illegal modifications to the rear spoiler were found. Inspectors now will remove cars' spoilers instead of just checking their shapes and sizes.

Miller said if there is an issue in next weekend's championship race in Miami, the matter will be dealt with that night.

Additionally, Miller said NASCAR would review its deterrence model in the offseason and consider stiffer penalties for certain infractions.

"We believe this to be a separate manufactured part by the team", Miller said. "It's getting borderline ridiculous". However, upon further inspection, NASCAR ruled the win illegitimate and stripped Harvick of the win and the automatic playoff advancement that comes with it.

Crew chief Rodney Childers and auto chief Robert Smith were suspended for the final two races of the season. Childers was also fined $75,000.

Harvick was docked 40 points for the violation, and his win at Texas no longer automatically advances him to the Round of 8.

The penalty on the No. 4 vehicle moves Harvick back to one spot above the cutoff line and took away his locked-in status to the final round of the playoffs at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As part of the penalty, Harvick can not use the win at TMS in a tiebreaker.

Greg Zipadelli, vice-president of competition at SHR, said the team will not appeal the penalties.

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Zipadelli said Tony Gibson will serve as interim crew chief and Nick DeFazio will be interim auto chief.

"We work tirelessly across every inch of our race cars to create speed, " Zipadelli said. "We will not appeal the penalty. We will direct our immediate focus to this weekend's event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the racetrack".

Harvick's win at Texas was his series-leading eighth in 2018. Now, three spots will be up for grabs in Phoenix.

Harvick won the 2014 Cup Series championship and went to Phoenix that season in a must-win situation to race for the title.

The 2014 Cup Series champion is a nine-time victor at Phoenix, including earlier this year.

"To think that we can scrutinize a auto as good in five minutes than we can in three hours at the R&D Center is a bit unrealistic, but we are looking at different things for next year, getting into stiffer consequences for the team for even unloading cars that we see are not legal in the first round of inspection". Both drivers were already eliminated from the playoffs in earlier rounds.

Clint Bowyer likely remains in a must-win scenario at ISM Raceway in Phoenix on Sunday.

The impact of the penalty stretches behind Stewart-Haas Racing as well.

An NASCAR inspector noticed something looked amiss on the No. 4 during the post-race inspection at the track, a finding that led to officials breaking down the spoiler completely once back at the R&D Center, where the infraction was then discovered.

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