Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Kevin Harvick penalised after Texas

Kevin Harvick penalised after Texas

It looked like Kevin Harvick had breezed past the competition to lock his place in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a stirring performance this past week in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR announced the penalties against the Stewart-Haas Racing team, which included knocking Harvick out of using the automatic berth to be among four drivers vying for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18.

But this apparent brazen attempt to circumvent the rules could be the tipping point for NASCAR as it tries to emphasize that teams must bring legal cars to the race track.

Harvick was also docked 40 points and will lose his crew chief Rodney Childers for the remaining two races as well.

Zipadelli said Tony Gibson will serve as interim crew chief and Nick DeFazio will be interim vehicle chief.

The team said it would not appeal the penalty and vice president of competition Greg Zipadelli said in a statement "NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book".

The team has the right to appeal this penalty, but indicated that they will forgo that option. "We will direct our immediate focus to this weekend's event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the racetrack". With the reduction, Harvick falls to fourth in the standings and may not use his Texas win as a tiebreaker should such a situation arise. That leaves Harvick to fight for his playoff life at Phoenix this weekend with backup crew chief Tony Gibson.

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The 2014 Cup Series champion is a nine-time victor at Phoenix, including earlier this year.

"We realize that we kind of probably need to ramp up the severity of what goes on at the race track, and we're hoping that we can change the culture to where we don't have to play this cat-and-mouse game with the teams all the time because we have to make it a little bit more outcome for them than just saying, 'Take that [piece] off, '" Miller said.

- Due to the No. 4 team's infraction, Miller said NASCAR will now be unbolting every spoiler and examining them during at-track inspection for the final two races.

"To think that we can scrutinize a vehicle as good in five minutes than we can in three hours at the R&D Center is a bit unrealistic, but we are looking at different things for next year, getting into stiffer consequences for the team for even unloading cars that we see are not legal in the first round of inspection". Johnson was sent to the back of the field because NASCAR believed his auto failed inspection three times, but he had failed only twice. Although this isn't the proper time for Martin Truex Jr. or Aric Almirola to get Logano back, if either one has his eligibility ended or becomes locked into the Championship 4, don't be surprised when cameras cut to Logano hitting the wall after one of those drivers, or even a new Logano hater, hits him to end his race. NASCAR considered making it an L2 penalty (75 points) but settled on the high end of an L1 penalty (40 points).

NASCAR later allowed Miller to answer questions about Harvick's penalty because of the magnitude of the situation.

It took until Wednesday for the penalties to be announced because the cars were in transit Monday from Texas to North Carolina.

Miller was asked if he thought "ridiculous" was an accurate word to describe how teams are approaching the inspection process. 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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