NASCAR: Harvick loses Championship 4 spot after penalty
By Kelly Crandall | RACER.com NASCAR correspondent
evin Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team have been issued an L1-level penalty which has negated their victory at Texas that locked them into the title race.
Per the NASCAR penalty report, the team violated section 20.4.12.a&b, which relates to spoilers. The language of the rule states “vehicle must conform to the CAD file and drawing. Spoiler must be used exactly as supplied from the manufacturer. Rule 18.104.22.168.2(c) applied to race finish as a post-race L1 infraction.”
As a result, Harvick’s AAA Texas 500 race win does not count as clinching a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The team has been docked 40 driver and 40 owner points and crew chief Rodney Childers has been fined $75,000 and suspended for the next two races. Car chief Robert Smith has also been suspended for the next two weeks.
Stewart-Haas will not appeal the penalty. Tony Gibson will serve as Harvick’s crew chief at both Phoenix and Homestead. Nick DeFazio will serve as the car chief.
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With the penalty, Harvick goes from being locked into the title race to fourth in the playoff standings with a three-point advantage on teammate Kurt Busch going into this weekend’s elimination race. Chase Elliott is now 17 points behind, Aric Almirola is 35 back and Clint Bowyer trails by 51.
“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,” SHR vice president Greg Zipadelli said in a statement. “We will not appeal the penalty. Instead, we will direct our immediate focus to this weekend’s event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the racetrack.”
The teams of Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones were also penalized with L1-level infractions after further inspection at the NASCAR R&D Center.
The No. 12 Team Penske team was found to have violated section 22.214.171.124.b on door front crush panels. Per NASCAR, “all filler panels must remain permanently attached for the entire event.”
Crew chief Jeremy Bullins has been fined $50,000 while car chief Kirk Almquist has been suspended from the next two NASCAR Cup Series races. The team has also been docked 20 driver and 20 owner points.
The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team was penalized for violation of sections 20.4.h (Body) and 126.96.36.199.b (Package Tray). Per NASCAR, “air cannot pass from one area of the vehicle interior to another. Vehicle package tray must remain flat and straight, front to back, with one break.”
Crew chief Chris Gayle has been fined $50,000 and car chief Jason Overstreet is suspended for the next two NASCAR Cup races. The team has also been docked 20 driver and 20 owner points.
One penalty was assessed in the Camping World Truck Series. The No. 35 team of Brennan Poole was issued a safety penalty for the “loss or separation of added ballast” from the truck.
Crew chief Ryan Bell and truck chief Jerry Kennedy and mechanic Patrick Magee have been suspended for the next three Truck Series races, which will carry over into the first race of the 2019 season.
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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.