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

Miller said there was no doubt in his mind that the spoiler violation on the No. 4 auto was a deliberate attempt to obtain an aero dynamic advantage on the track. As black and white as it gets. "Spoilers must be used exactly as supplied from the manufacturer".

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.

"This met the shape, and it met the height, and we don't check at track the offset of the spoiler because it's supposed to be a standard part that bolts to a standard deck lid", Miller said. Harvick and his SHR No. 4 team were also docked 40 championship driver and owner points, which drops Harvick to the fourth position in the current championship standings. This prompted NASCAR to levy penalties which include a 40-point deduction and suspension for crew chief Rodney Childers for the remainder of the season, in addition to the aforementioned loss of guaranteed spot in the Championship 4. An inspector at Texas thought the spoiler looked off, but Miller said it had to be removed from the auto. Childers also was fined $75,000.

Harvick still has the possibility to clinch the final playoff spot available on points. That leaves Harvick to fight for his playoff life at Phoenix this weekend with backup crew chief Tony Gibson.

"We work tirelessly across every inch of our race cars to create speed and, unfortunately, NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book", Zipadelli said.

Greg Zipadellil, SHR's vice president of communications, said the team 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".

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

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The penalty against Harvick also closes a rough race for NASCAR, which erroneously penalized Jimmie Johnson moments before the race began.

But this apparent brazen attempt to circumvent the rules could be the tipping point for NASCAR as it tries to emphasize that teams must bring legal cars to the race track.

As for next year, changes could be coming to the penalties for various inspection infractions. All three were expected to race for the championship, and none is qualified for Homestead yet with one race remaining.

"We've heard the fans kind of call out for, 'Why don't you disqualify the offending car?' and that's actually a topic of discussion along with many other things related to the deterrence model", NASCAR Senior Vice President Scott Miller said Wednesday. "We will now return our focus to Phoenix, and the battle for a championship".

Blaney crew chief Jeremy Bullins was fined $50,000, and auto chief Kirk Almquist was suspended for the next two races.

Also Wednesday, NASCAR penalized the teams of Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones, who already have been eliminated from the playoffs. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins is fined $50,000, and vehicle chief Kirk Almquist is suspended for the next two races.

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