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Harvick's championship berth spoiled by NASCAR inspectors

10 November 2018

Maybe this is why Kevin Harvick's No. 4 Ford was so strong in winning the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team only have themselves to blame for NASCAR issuing a potential championship-crippling penalty on Wednesday.

Harvick was docked 40 driver points and the team loses 40 owner points as well.

Zipadelli said Tony Gibson will serve as interim crew chief and Nick DeFazio will be interim auto chief.

Greg Zipadellil, SHR's vice president of communications, said the team will not appeal the penalty.

The team has the right to appeal this penalty, but indicated that they will forgo that option. "Instead, we will direct our immediate focus to this weekend's event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the racetrack". With the reduction, Harvick falls to fourth in the standings and may not use his Texas win as a tiebreaker should such a situation arise. Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer are all below the cutline and likely need to win at Phoenix to advance.

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- NASCAR will perform an engine teardown and enhanced post-race inspection immediately after the Homestead race (as it has done in the past) rather than wait until midweek to scrutinize the championship vehicle for any amusing business. Harvick has won nine times there in the Cup Series over the course of his career including this season's March race.

If the only three cars inspected failed, what about the other 37 cars in Sunday's field? He trails Martin Truex 25 points and Kyle Busch by 28. 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. Just how much of an advantage Harvick had is irrelevant: The levels of deceit NASCAR believes Stewart-Haas Racing went to were so devious the intent can't be questioned. The #12 Team Penske team of Ryan Blaney and the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing club of Erik Jones suffered 20-point penalties and crew chief suspensions for their infractions.

It took until Wednesday for the penalties to be announced because the cars were in transit Monday from Texas to North Carolina.

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

Blaney crew chief Jeremy Bullins was fined $50,000, and auto chief Kirk Almquist was suspended for the next two races. Miller said the sanctioning body will look during the offseason at tougher penalties if a team that can't even pass the first round of inspection. Once the Harvick violation was discovered late Tuesday, NASCAR had to examine whether the violation was correct and didn't release its findings until the next day - two days before Harvick and his interim crew chief and vehicle chief will practice at Phoenix.

Harvick's championship berth spoiled by NASCAR inspectors