Kevin Harvick’s race-winning auto fails inspection; had illegal spoiler during inspection

Paola Ditto
Novembre 10, 2018

As punishment, Harvick and the #4 team lost 40 points in the Driver's and Owner's Championships, respectively.

Kevin Harvick led the field for 177 of the 337 laps on Sunday at Texas.

NASCAR later allowed Miller to answer questions about Harvick's penalty because of the magnitude of the situation. The infraction was discovered at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C. during post-race auto and engine teardown.

The details were unveiled late Wednesday, 10 hours after Harvick's spot in the finale was revoked.

Harvick was also stripped of his berth in the Championship 4 as a result of this penalty, meaning that he is at risk of being eliminated from championship contention in the third and final race of the round of 8, the Can-Am 500, at ISM Raceway, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, November 11. Not only did Harvick lose his spot in the final four at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but he must race the final two weeks of the season without his crew chief and auto chief.

NASCAR provided a statement from senior vice president of competition Scott Miller.

SHR has not challenged NASCAR's cheating allegation.

"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 of Competition Greg Zipadelli stated. Harvick has won nine times there in the Cup Series over the course of his career including this season's March race. All three were expected to race for the championship, and none is qualified for Homestead yet with one race remaining. The penalty opens a realistic chance for Kurt Busch or Chase Elliott to move into the playoffs on merit if Logano, or a non-playoff driver wins this weekend, while Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer would likely need a checkered flag to advance.

It wasn't just SHR last weekend, either. The infraction was discovered during the usual post-race tear down at NASCAR's Research & Development Center. Ryan Blaney's team was punished and so was the team for Erik Jones. Johnson was sent to the back of the field because NASCAR believed his vehicle failed inspection three times, but he had failed only twice. "It's unfortunate now we'll be pulling spoilers off and have to do another inspection", Miller said. "I think we're getting into borderline ridiculous territory". "To think that we can scrutinize a vehicle as good in five minutes as we can in three hours at the R&D Center is a bit unrealistic". He trails Martin Truex 25 points and Kyle Busch by 28. Miller said the sanctioning body will look during the offseason at tougher penalties if a team that can't even pass the first round of inspection. "We are hoping we can change the culture to where we don't have to play this cat-and-mouse game with the teams all the time", he said. It wasn't until Wednesday morning, long after Sunday's race, that NASCAR revealed Harvick's vehicle had failed inspection.

NASCAR announced the mistake during the race and said Monday it has updated its procedures to prevent a similar mistake moving forward. Both were suspended for two races. The penalties announced by NASCAR stretched across the Camping World Truck and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and impacted numerous teams.

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