Harvick loses automatic NASCAR championship berth

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick

The spoiler observed on the No. 4 was offset slightly to the right - that provides an aerodynamic advantage when a vehicle goes into the corner.

The spoilers, Miller said, are purchased from a single source supplier and positioned on the vehicle.

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

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

"As black and white as it gets", Miller said in a Wednesday night conference call.

Miller said NASCAR officials at ISM Raceway in Phoenix this weekend will further scrutinize all spoilers before cars go on track as a response to the penalty.

"We're looking at the whole deterrence model and trying to review that over the winter and possibly put more teeth in it", Miller said, per AutoWeek. "It's getting borderline ridiculous". But certainly, points, deterrence models, fines, suspensions, all that stuff is always on our plate during the winter. Harvick gained the maximum 60 points at Texas because he won both stages (10 points each) and the race (worth 40 points).

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Harvick was docked 40 points for the violation, and his win at Texas no longer automatically advances him to the Round of 8. As part of the penalty, Harvick can not use the win at TMS in a tiebreaker.

Zipadelli said Tony Gibson will come out of retirement to work as interim crew chief.

"We work tirelessly across every inch of our race cars to create speed, " Zipadelli said.

Stewart-Haas Racing announced early Wednesday that the team would not appeal the penalty. He pulled it off and is a nine-time victor at Phoenix, including earlier this year. He is only three points above Kurt Busch, in fifth place.

As the victor Sunday, Harvick's auto was one of the vehicles taken back to NASCAR R&D Center for further inspection. Johnson was sent to the back of the field because NASCAR believed his vehicle failed inspection three times, but he had failed only twice. "We will be able to have eyes on those cars and see those things quickly at pre-race and post-race at Homestead". The crew member was sitting on the wall with his feet touching the asphalt on pit road, which was a violation, even if it seemed extreme.

Now Harvick's team has been rocked by a penalty that may change the composition of the final four drivers racing for the title. All three were expected to race for the championship, and none is qualified for Homestead yet with one race remaining.

"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", NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said. "We will now return our focus to Phoenix, and the battle for a championship". The infraction was discovered during the usual post-race tear down at NASCAR's Research & Development Center. "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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