Kevin Harvick stripped of berth in NASCAR championship race

Getty Images

Getty Images

That was correct on this one, and it would be the offset of the spoiler in relationship to the center line of the vehicle. The No. 4 had an illegal spoiler. Harvick's auto passed the post-race inspection at TMS. As black and white as it gets.

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

"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. "It's getting borderline ridiculous".

Additionally, Harvick was docked 40 points, crew chief Rodney Childers and auto chief Robert Smith were suspended for the last two races of the season, and Childers was fined $75,000. Childers was also fined $75,000. Additionally, Harvick has been docked 40 driver points and the team loses 40 owner points. Harvick now enters this weekend's race at Phoenix fourth among the remaining eight playoff drivers, three points above the cutline. Texas race victor Kevin Harvick lost his automatic championship berth from the victory because the spoiler on his Ford was out of compliance.

Greg Zipadelli, vice-president of competition at SHR, said the team will not appeal the penalties. That leaves Harvick to fight for his playoff life at Phoenix this weekend with backup crew chief Tony Gibson.

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

"As everybody knows, we issued a penalty for the 4 auto today, and the penalty notice, which I'm sure you all got, it was spelled out that the splitter or the spoiler did not meet the CAD file", he said.

Harvick's win at Texas was his series-leading eighth of the year and qualified him for Homestead along with Joey Logano. Now, three spots will be up for grabs in Phoenix. He won at Phoenix during his title-winning season to earn a spot in the four-car championship field. He pulled it off and is a nine-time victor at Phoenix, including earlier this year. Both drivers were already eliminated from the playoffs in earlier rounds.

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The penalty against Harvick also closes a rough race for NASCAR, which erroneously penalized Jimmie Johnson moments before the race began.

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. Later in the same event, Bowyer was penalized for a crew member being over the pit road wall too early.

As for next year, changes could be coming to the penalties for various inspection infractions. 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.

As a result, Harvick's victory does not count toward automatic advancement into the Championship Race at Homestead.

In what was the strongest words heard in sometime by a NASCAR official about the actions of a team violating the rules, Scott Miller, Senior Vice President of Competition, said Kevin Harvick's spoiler was offset to the right of the centerline of the vehicle and it was intentional.

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

Other penalties announced on Wednesday were also of the L1 variety. NASCAR doesn't penalize teams for a prequalifying or prerace inspection failure and penalizes the team practice time the following week for two inspection failures. Nick DeFazio will serve as interim auto chief.

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