Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Harvick loses automatic NASCAR championship berth

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
Cary Erickson | 08 November, 2018, 22:24

Kevin Harvick has been stripped of his berth in NASCAR's championship race because his winning auto failed inspection after Texas Motor Speedway.

Miller said that the spoiler on Harvick's auto was offset to the right by 200- to 300-thousandths of an inch.

Stewart-Haas Racing will not appeal the penalty.

In the immediate aftermath when it comes to spoilers, Miller said NASCAR officials would be taking them off the cars this weekend at ISM Raceway and checking that they are the correct pieces.

"Teams should be bringing legal cars to the race track, and we shouldn't have to do those inspections all the time".

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

Miller said that NASCAR will change its inspection procedure at the track starting this weekend at Phoenix.

"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. "It's getting borderline ridiculous".

Harvick kept the win, but it won't allow him to earn an automatic berth into the championship round.

Crew chief Rodney Childers and auto chief Cheddar Smith will also sit out the last two races of the 2018 season. Both were suspended for two races. NASCAR also hit Childers with a $75,000 fine.

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Harvick was docked 40 driver points and the team loses 40 owner points as well.

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. Texas race victor Kevin Harvick lost his automatic championship berth from the victory because the spoiler on his Ford was out of compliance. 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 racecars to create speed and, unfortunately, NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book", SHR vice president of competition Greg Zipadelli said Wednesday in a statement. "We will not appeal the penalty". Now, three spots will be up for grabs in Phoenix. He pulled it off and is a nine-time victor at Phoenix, including earlier this year.

"To think that we can scrutinize a vehicle 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".

The penalty is disastrous for SHR, which went into the third round of the playoffs with all four of its drivers eligible for the championship.

The penalty against Harvick also closes a rough race for NASCAR, which erroneously penalized Jimmie Johnson moments before the race began. The infraction was discovered when NASCAR gave the auto a further inspection in North Carolina. Cars will not be taken to the R&D Center after that race. Later in the same event, Bowyer was penalized for a crew member being over the pit road wall too early.

Now Harvick's team has been rocked by a penalty that may change the composition of the final four drivers racing for the title.

Joey Logano is now the only driver locked into Homestead with "The Big Three" of Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. now in on merit. All three were expected to race for the championship, and none is qualified for Homestead yet with one race remaining.

As far as other penalties go, Texas runner-up finisher Ryan Blaney and fourth-place finisher Erik Jones were each docked 20 points for postrace violations in addition to seeing their crew chiefs suspended for the final two contests.

It took until Wednesday for the penalties to be announced because the cars were in transit Monday from Texas to North Carolina. NASCAR doesn't penalize teams for a prequalifying or prerace inspection failure and penalizes the team practice time the following week for two inspection failures.