NASCAR to consider stiffer penalties for violations

Kevin Harvick’s win Sunday at Texas no longer counts for automatic qualification into the championship raceMore

An NASCAR inspector noticed something looked amiss on the No. 4 during the post-race inspection at the track, a finding that led to officials breaking down the spoiler completely once back at the R&D Center, where the infraction was then discovered.

After Harvick made the trip to Victory Lane, his vehicle was sent to the research and development center where illegal modifications to the rear spoiler were found.

Harvick has been in NASCAR's finale three of the last four years. Those penalties also include the suspensions of crew chief Rodney Childers and auto chief Robert "Cheddar" Smith for the remaining two races of the 2018 season and a $75,000 fine for Childers.

NASCAR provided a statement from senior vice president of competition Scott Miller. There is a lot on the line this weekend at ISM Raceway with three Championship 4 spots still open and three drivers only separated by 17 points for the fourth and final spot.

"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. "We will try to do that in pre-inspection, and then I think we have enough eyes to know if a spoiler comes off a vehicle, then we go on high alert on that one".

Greg Zipadellil, SHR's vice president of communications, said the team will not appeal the penalty.

The issue was with a spoiler that had been modified to give Harvick an aerodynamic advantage as he dominated and won for a Cup Series-high eighth time this season.

NASCAR will evaluate its penalty system following the season, a typical procedure and one that could spark additional internal debate about whether NASCAR needs to start disqualifying teams for violations and whether it must crack down on teams failing inspections multiple times prior to qualifying and the race. All three were expected to race for the championship, and none is qualified for Homestead yet with one race remaining. Strategy will be king on Sunday, but the question remains as to which strategy will work out the best and get one of these drivers into the Championship 4.

"It is not our desire to issue any penalties but will do so when necessary to ensure each race and championship is contested on a level playing field", Miller said. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins is fined $50,000, and auto chief Kirk Almquist is suspended for the next two races. 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.

It took until Wednesday for the penalties to be announced because the cars were in transit Monday from Texas to North Carolina. Once the Harvick violation was discovered late Tuesday, NASCAR had to examine whether the violation was correct and didn't release its findings until the next day - two days before Harvick and his interim crew chief and vehicle chief will practice at Phoenix.



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