NASCAR to consider stiffer penalties for violations

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

Kevin Harvick's NASCAR Cup Series playoff spot is no longer guaranteed after his race-winning auto from Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway was found to have illegal alterations to the rear spoiler.

Talking to reporters in a Wednesday night teleconference about the penalty to Stewart-Haas Racing's No. 4 team, senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said that several issues will be be discussed over the winter.

Stewart-Haas Racing team will not appeal the penalty and former Cup crew chief Tony Gibson will replace Childers.

The illegal spoiler was not found until the No. 4 Ford received a thorough inspection at NASCAR's Research and Development Center when it was returned to North Carolina after Sunday's race.

Miller said that NASCAR will change its inspection procedure at the track starting this weekend at Phoenix.

"We have small windows and tight windows to get the inspections done, and we might spend in the neighborhood of five minutes with each of the 40 cars for the three-hour window that we have for inspection", 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 auto, then we go on high alert on that one".

"Yeah, we'll have to take them off and match them up against the part that it's supposed to be", Miller said.


Harvick kept the win, but it won't allow him to earn an automatic berth into the championship round.

The penalty on the No. 4 auto moves Harvick back to one spot above the cutoff line and took away his locked-in status to the final round of the playoffs at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This prompted NASCAR to levy penalties which include a 40-point deduction and suspension for crew chief Rodney Childers for the remainder of the season, in addition to the aforementioned loss of guaranteed spot in the Championship 4. Texas race victor Kevin Harvick lost his automatic championship berth from the victory because the spoiler on his Ford was out of compliance.

Greg Zipadellil, SHR's vice president of communications, said the team will not appeal the penalty. Ryan Blaney's No. 12 team and Erik Jones' No. 20 team will each be docked 20 driver and owner points, and both team's auto chief and crew chief will be suspended for the final two races of 2018. "Instead, we will direct our immediate focus to this weekend's event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the race track".

"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".

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. "We will now return our focus to Phoenix, and the battle for a championship". NASCAR had moved away in recent years from detailing infractions publicly. Driver Ryan Blaney loses 20 driver points, and the team loses 20 owner points.

Blaney's crew chief Jeremy Bullins and Jones' crew chief Chris Gayle have also been fined $50,000 each.

Other penalties announced on Wednesday were also of the L1 variety. Inspection was on Tuesday, and the teams do the actual teardown themselves.

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