Harvick’s championship berth spoiled by NASCAR inspectors

Carrie Guzman
November 10, 2018

Harvick was also barred from using the win as an automatic entry into the final four for the November 18 championship race at Homestead.

"It is not our desire to issue any penalties, but we'll do so when necessary to ensure each race and championship is contested on a level playing field", Miller said earlier Wednesday.

NASCAR also suspended Harvick's crew chief, Rodney Childers, and auto chief, Robert Smith, for the final two races of the season, as well as docking Harvick 40 points.

Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition at SHR, said the team will not appeal the penalties. "We will not appeal the penalty".

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This is huge as his victory at Texas can not be used to move him directly into the Homestead Championship race and it can not be used in any way as far as a tie breaker goes if he ties another driver in points after the race at ISM Raceway in Phoenix. He will enter this weekend's Round of 8 finale fourth among eight playoff drivers in the standings, three points above the cutline - should there be a tie for the final transfer spot, Harvick can not use the Texas win in the tiebreaking procedure. 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. Harvick has won nine times there in the Cup Series over the course of his career including this season's March race. Johnson was sent to the back of the field because NASCAR believed his vehicle failed inspection three times, but he had failed only twice.

Miller vowed intense scrutiny on the four championship-contending cars at Homestead, and said the post-race procedure is similar to the Daytona 500, where engines are examined at the track after the race. Harvick, along with Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., is part of NASCAR's so-called Big Three that dominated the season through a stretch of summer racing. One of his victories came in the spring, part of a three-race winning streak marred by an illegal auto at Las Vegas one week earlier. "We will now return our focus to Phoenix, and the battle for a championship". Driver Ryan Blaney loses 20 driver points, and the team loses 20 owner points. Nick DeFazio will serve as interim vehicle chief. Crew chief Chris Gayle has been fined $50,000.

Other penalties announced on Wednesday were also of the L1 variety. "The teams should really be bringing legal cars to the racetrack and we shouldn't have to do that inspection all the time".

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