NASCAR clarifies Harvick's penalty
By Kelly Crandall | RACER.com NASCAR correspondent
NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller offered additional information Wednesday night on the penalty issued to Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 4 team following Kevin Harvick’s victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
In its post-event penalty report, NASCAR noted the infraction was with the spoiler. According to Miller, when checked at the NASCAR R&D Center, the spoiler on the 4 car did not match the CAD file detailing the profile of the spoiler, which teams buy from a supplier (Richardson Racing Products).
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In the case of Harvick’s car, the spoiler height and shape were correct –details that were checked at the track by officials. However, the spoiler did not conform because it was offset in relationship to the center line of the car — in this case, moved to the right. As a result, more air can get to the spoiler when the car goes into the corner and, Miller said, “that’s definitely aerodynamic performance.”
The infraction was “let’s say 200 to 300-thousands [of an inch],” Miller offered. “Little amounts actually it’s not something that you would just walk by and go, oh, my gosh. We’re not talking a matter of several inches or something like that. But what everybody has to realize is like subtle differences, a quarter inch, a half inch, three eighths of an inch, an eighth of an inch even, when it comes to aerodynamic performance in that area, it all means something.
“It’s not something that by any means would stick out like a sore thumb. It’s definitely something that you would have to take a little bit deeper dive to see.”
Asked if the part’s nonconformity could have been the result of a manufacturer issue, Miller responded, “No, absolutely zero.”
“A manufacturing tolerance would be ten-thousandths of an inch, not 300 thousandths of an inch. So yeah, absolutely 100 percent, no question, black and white. As black and white as it gets.”
Miller underlined that while height and shape are checked at the track, offset of a spoiler is not checked because “it’s supposed to be a standard part that bolts to a standard deck lid. So that location of the spoiler to the deck lid is a given as long as the standard parts are used.”
Miller believes that Stewart-Haas Racing manufactured the part instead of using the spoiler from the vendor.
Asked to clear up why the infraction was not detected at the track, Miller said it was noticed. However, it wasn’t noticed for exactly what it was, and since Harvick won the race and the car was going to the R&D Center, NASCAR knew it had a chance for a closer look. (Again, this area is not something checked at the track).
“But there was something that one of the inspectors saw that kind of made them a little bit suspicious, and that’s why we took it [the spoiler] off when the car got back to the R&D Center,” said Miller, and compared it to the CAD file.
The penalty issued early Wednesday was a loss of 40 driver and 40 owner points and the loss of the win counting toward the playoffs. Harvick went from being locked into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway to just three points above the cutline. His crew chief, Rodney Childers, and car chief Robert Smith have been suspended for the rest of the season.
Stewart-Haas is not appealing the penalty. Harvick will work with Tony Gibson this weekend at ISM Raceway and in Miami.
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ABOUT KELLY CRANDALL
Kelly has been on the NASCAR beat full-time since 2013, and joined RACER as chief NASCAR writer in 2017. Her work has also appeared in NASCAR.com, the NASCAR Illustrated magazine, and NBC Sports. A corporate communications graduate from Central Penn College, Crandall is a two-time George Cunningham Writer of the Year recipient from the National Motorsports Press Association.