Friday, 16 November, 2018

Harvick's championship berth spoiled by NASCAR inspectors

Kevin Harvick wins at ISM Raceway Kevin Harvick wins at ISM Raceway
Andrew Wong | 10 November, 2018, 06:12

Kevin Harvick's road to the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship just became more hard. However, NASCAR believes the No. 4 team actually manufactured its own spoiler and passed it off as the standard one - except the illegal spoiler was offset to the right in relation to the center of the vehicle, which was "definitely (an) aerodynamic performance (advantage)", Miller said.

However, upon further inspection, NASCAR ruled the win illegitimate and stripped Harvick of the win and the automatic playoff advancement that comes with it. He also is without crew chief Rodney Childers and auto chief Robert Smith for the rest of the season as both are suspended for two races.

Harvick was docked 40 points for the violation, and his win at Texas no longer automatically advances him to the Round of 8. Harvick now enters this weekend's race at Phoenix fourth among the remaining eight playoff drivers, three points above the cutline.

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The two drivers who are now ahead of Harvick but have not yet clinched berths in the Championship 4 are Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch and Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr.

Harvick won the 2014 Cup Series championship and went to Phoenix that season in a must-win situation to race for the title. One of his victories came in the spring, part of a three-race winning streak marred by an illegal vehicle at Las Vegas one week earlier.

"We believe this to be a separate manufactured part by the team", Miller said.

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Scott Miller, NASCAR's senior vice president of competition, said he felt SHR took the notion of pushing boundaries and exploring technology "into borderline ridiculous territory". An inspector at Texas thought the spoiler looked off, but Miller said it had to be removed from the auto.

Miller vowed intense scrutiny on the four championship-contending cars at Homestead, and said the post-race procedure is similar to the Daytona 500, where engines are examined at the track after the race. Both were suspended for two races. "We will now return our focus to Phoenix, and the battle for a championship". The #12 Team Penske team of Ryan Blaney and the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing club of Erik Jones suffered 20-point penalties and crew chief suspensions for their infractions.

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

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NASCAR announced penalties that carried heavy fines on Wednesday following Texas Motor Speedway. Jones crew chief Chris Gayle was fined $50,000 and vehicle chief Jason Overstreet was suspended the next two races. "The teams should really be bringing legal cars to the racetrack and we shouldn't have to do that inspection all the time". Harvick has seven wins in his last 12 starts at Phoenix and nine wins in 31 starts overall.

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