Kevin Harvick Not Locked Into Championship 4 Following Texas Penaltyby Camille Jones November 7, 2018 0 comments
CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR issued a L1 penalty to Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 4 Ford team on Wednesday, ridding the organization of their lock into the Championship 4 following Kevin Harvick’s win at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.
The penalty was handed down for violating Section 20.4.12 of the NASCAR Rule Book, which focuses specifically on spoilers. It is illegal practice to alter the spoiler of the race car, which is supplied by the manufacturer.
Aside from losing their automatic ticket to race for a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the team also faces a list of penalties, including 40 driver and 40 owner points taken away from the team.
The No. 4 team’s crew chief, Rodney Childers, and car chief, Robert Smith, will be suspended for the final two races of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Childers and Smith will not be allowed within credentialed areas of the race track this weekend at ISM Raceway and the following weekend in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Childers was also handed down a $75,000 fine.
Veteran crew chief Tony Gibson will fill in as interim crew chief for the No. 4 team in the final two races of the season. Nick DeFazio will serve as the No. 4 team’s interim car chief.
Stewart-Haas Racing Vice President of Competition, Greg Zipadelli, said in a statement on Wednesday, “We work tirelessly across every inch of our race cars to create speed and, unfortunately, NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book. We will not appeal the penalty. Instead, we will direct our immediate focus to this weekend’s event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the race track.”
Harvick will now be put into a box of needing a win at ISM Raceway, or a strong showing, which may not be out of reach for the nine-time winner at the track, including a victory in the spring race of the 2018 season. In 30 starts, Harvick has completed over 99 percent of the laps raced at ISM Raceway, and has zero DNFs with 1,522 laps led.
A victory at ISM Raceway will once again seal Harvick’s ticket into the Championship 4, but a solid outing, which Harvick is accustomed to at the one-mile track, would potentially be just enough to do the trick.
Two other penalties handed down Wednesday included a L1 penalty for the No. 12 team of Ryan Blaney for an infraction involving the door front crush panels. As the NASCAR penalty report notes, “All filler panels must remain permanently attached for the entire event.” The infraction resulted in a $50,000 fine for crew chief Jeremy Bullins, and a suspension for Bullins and car chief, Kirk Almquist for the final two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events. Twenty driver points and 20 owner points were docked as well.
The No. 20 team of Erik Jones was also handed down a L1 penalty for improper body and package tray. As stated by the penalty notice, “Air cannot pass from one area of the vehicle interior to another. Vehicle package tray must remain flat and straight from front to back, with one break.” Jones was docked 20 driver points and his Joe Gibbs Racing team was docked 20 owner points. Crew chief Chris Gayle and car chief Jason Overstreet received suspensions for the final two races of the season, along with Gayle receiving a $50,000 fine for the infraction.
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