By Toby Christie, Editor — Follow on Twitter @Toby_Christie
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. Harvick won in dominating fashion as he swept all three stages of the race.
However, NASCAR announced on Wednesday that the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion was not quite up to spec, and was popped with an L1 penalty when the car was inspected at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center.
The car was found to have issues with the rear spoiler. The official section of the NASCAR Rule Book that Harvick’s team failed to adhere to was 20.4.12. This rule states that spoilers must be used exactly as supplied from the manufacturer and not altered.
This is huge as his victory at Texas cannot be used to move him directly into the Homestead Championship race and it cannot be used in any way as far as a tie breaker goes if he ties another driver in points after the race at ISM Raceway in Phoenix. Harvick and his SHR No. 4 team were also docked 40 championship driver and owner points, which drops Harvick to the fourth position in the current championship standings.
Crew chief Rodney Childers and car chief Cheddar Smith will also sit out the last two races of the 2018 season. Childers was also fined $75,000.
Harvick will enter Phoenix just three points above the cutline.
The team has the right to appeal this penalty, but indicated that they will forgo that option.
Other penalties announced on Wednesday were also of the L1 variety. 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 car chief and crew chief will be suspended for the final two races of 2018.
Blaney’s crew chief Jeremy Bullins and Jones’ crew chief Chris Gayle have also been fined $50,000 each.
Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.