Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Harvick loses automatic NASCAR championship berth

Harvick loses automatic NASCAR championship berth

Harvick was docked 40 points for the violation, and his win at Texas no longer automatically advances him to the Round of 8.

The impact of the penalty stretches behind Stewart-Haas Racing as well. The infraction was discovered in postrace inspection at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina.

The whopping penalty negated the automatic berth Harvick earned into NASCAR's version of a final four.

The details were unveiled late Wednesday, 10 hours after Harvick's spot in the finale was revoked. Harvick won in dominating fashion as he swept all three stages of the race.

Furthermore, crew chief Rodney Childers and vehicle chief Robert Smith will miss the final two races of the season; the former was also fined $75,000.

NASCAR provided a statement from senior vice president of competition Scott Miller.

Harvick, despite earning his eighth win of the season, sits in fourth place - three points ahead of Kurt Busch and 17 points ahead of Chase Elliott.

Kevin Harvick's crew chief says Stewart-Haas Racing modified the spoiler on Harvick's auto because other teams were already doing similar alterations.

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SHR has not challenged NASCAR's cheating allegation.

The 2014 Cup Series champion is a nine-time victor at Phoenix, including earlier this year. One of his victories came in the spring, part of a three-race winning streak marred by an illegal vehicle at Las Vegas one week earlier. "Unfortunately, NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book, ".

It wasn't just SHR last weekend, either. 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.

If the only three cars inspected failed, what about the other 37 cars in Sunday's field?

"As black and white as it gets", Miller said in a Wednesday night conference call. "This is an exciting time for us as we unveil the recently completed $178 million modernization project and we can't wait to showcase it to a full house during Sunday's semifinal race". 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. He trails Martin Truex 25 points and Kyle Busch by 28. It led to a larger NASCAR investigation that uncovered at least one other case of race manipulation.

Miller was asked if he thought "ridiculous" was an accurate word to describe how teams are approaching the inspection process. He added the penalties and consequences for teams who bring cars that don't pass inspection or fit within the rules will be increased next season to a harsher level. Harvick keeps the win at TSM but it no longer guarantees him a spot among the championship four in the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November.

"It's a shame that we have to, but yeah, we plan on doing that", Miller said.

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