News Analysis: Kevin Harvick penalized, loses locked-in spot at Homestead

What happened: Kevin Harvick’s ticket to Homestead was revoked after NASCAR found his team used an illegal spoiler during the No. 4 car’s dominating win at Texas. Harvick will technically keep the win, but he lost the benefit that advanced him to the championship race at Homestead. He also lost 40 points (of the 60 he earned in the race), which now puts him just three points ahead of the cutoff line heading to Phoenix. Crew chief Rodney Childers and car chief Cheddar Smith were suspended for the rest of the season, and Stewart-Haas Racing said it will not appeal. Former Kurt Busch crew chief Tony Gibson will lead Harvick’s team for the final two races. The second-place car of Ryan Blaney and the fourth-place car of Erik Jones were also found to have serious violations; the third-place car of Joey Logano was not brought back to NASCAR’s R&D Center for the same type of thorough inspection.

What it means: Given the severity of the penalty, the timing of the championship implications and the lack of an appeal by the team, the logical conclusion is this must have been a blatant attempt to skirt the rules rather than some sort of mistake or misunderstanding. It’s tough for fans to hear a race winner was cheating like this, but it’s a reminder all of the top NASCAR teams are likely pulling some sort of trickery and working in gray areas to find speed. That’s how teams separate themselves in NASCAR and why crew chiefs get paid the big bucks. Was it worth the risk? It’s hard to say, because we don’t know how long Harvick’s team had been doing this or how much of an impact it had on the team’s speed. Harvick also had another encumbered win earlier this season (in Las Vegas), but still ended up with the most successful season of his career anyway. Plus, Harvick still goes to his best track with a chance to advance to Homestead and win the championship in spite of the penalty. If NASCAR had taken all 60 of the points Harvick earned in the race instead of 40 — thereby completely erasing his Texas performance short of taking the trophy — it might be a different story.

News value (scale of 1 to 10): Nine. When the best team all year dominates a race and is found to have broken the rules, then gets removed from the championship, that’s about as big as it gets. I would put this as a 10, but I have to leave some room in case the Homestead winner cheats and gets stripped of the championship — which seems like a real possibility now.

Three questions: What exactly did Harvick’s team do to the spoiler that made it illegal? Will Harvick experience any dropoff in performance after the team was caught, or will this not have any impact on the car’s speed? If NASCAR had taken the win away in this case, who would get the trophy given the second-place car was also illegal and the third-place car wasn’t inspected as thoroughly?

19 Replies to “News Analysis: Kevin Harvick penalized, loses locked-in spot at Homestead”

  1. At my track, the third car gets inspected-IF legal-HE gets the win….

    But at THIS point almost NO-ONE is attending (Am I the only one to see the vast amount of empty seats at the race ??) and almost no one is watching on TV either…..

    So-No harm no foul as no one is going to very much care anyway.

    For my two cents, Harvick should lose ALL the points he got at Texas as penalty for using an illegally set-up car. Fans SHOULD BE in an uproar about all the cheating with the 2 top finishing cars along with the 4th place car…..

    But, without you Jeff, I would not have even known this happened. My local news during the sports segment did not cover it …..although i could tell you all of the local soccer scores…

  2. Sorry-My above comment showed up as “anon” it was me Jeff…

    Not that I am of any importance…..I just wanted you to know….

  3. Top two cars are illegal??? wth? It’s not worth it to ask the teams questions because who would believe their answer? no one

  4. I’ve a question…. If NASCAR checked each vehicle after a race how many do you expect would not have an infraction?

    1. Nascars way of trying to get a Chevrolet in the finals namely Chase Buttsucker Elliott. Look for Hendrick to buy a win.He has a way of buying things such as a luekemia cure a few years back.

  5. Do all races impound. Anything at track post race is final. Tying to make up for Johnson’s mistake they did! Trying to kept Toyota from crying anymore than they have. Different story ladt year when they were running away with everything. NASCAR won’t be happy until all seats are empty. Do away with mile half’s and go more tracks where skill is involved not aero!! Hope Kevin puts a whopping a on all them again this week too!

  6. When will this non sense stop? When they start taking wins away that’s when. However they must start catching this crap before the race. Or at least immediately after the race. No one remember but they used to tear engines down in the garage area after the race. As a fan I look at it, as many other fans do, that NASCAR actually encourages this bs. Suspending the car chief and crew chief means nothing and the fine is far less then what the team earned. The driver still gets the win in his stats. I’m no nuclear physicist but I could stop all of this in heartbeat. Remember the body in white? This was when the teams used bodies from the car companies. NASCAR had a template made from the factory car. The system worked fine for years but NASCAR started allowing the teams to dicker with the bodies and the car companies to make special body parts. I never saw a Buick Regal on the street that had a front end like Bobby Allison’s Daytona 500 winnning car. Get them back to stock it’s as simple as that. I’d sooner leave a race not knowing who won then to read that I saw a cheater win a race later in the week. Cut out this bull $hit of using the terms like creative engineering, working in the gray area, etc. one word”cheating” call it what it is. For all I know that spoiler may be the entire reason for Harvick’s great season. Remember the collapsed rear window debacle? Enough said.

  7. Positions one, two and four were illegal and they didn’t even check position three. What’s wrong with that picture and why? I wonder if all of the Fords that have been running in the front most of the year were cheating the same way. I suspect that is the reason they are not appealing this infraction because they don’t want anyone looking more closely at what they have been doing.

  8. If I remember right after Harvick’s window wasn’t the one who said over radio look at Harvivks window ( ELLIOTT) caught with the same thing!! And many other ones? The whole field is doing things out of the rule book it’s whoevernadcar want to find something wrong with. Again make all impound races.

  9. The no appeal deal puts a really bad taste in my mouth considering ALL of Kevin’s win this season.

  10. Per another article (Miller is a Nascar official):

    “Miller said that the spoiler on Harvick’s car was offset to the right by 200- to 300-thousandths of an inch. ”

    “This met the shape, and it met the height, and we don’t check at track the offset of the spoiler because it’s supposed to be a standard part that bolts to a standard deck lid,” Miller said. “So that location of the spoiler to the deck lid is a given as long as the standard parts are used.”

    As the winner Sunday, Harvick’s car was one of the vehicles taken back to NASCAR R&D Center for further inspection. Miller said “there was something that one of the inspectors saw that kind of made them a little bit suspicious, and that’s why we took it off when the car got back to the R&D Center.”
    “Miller said the spoiler did not conform to the CAD file that NASCAR had for the part.”

    1. No difference than when Johnson and knaus cheated there way to 7 championships. As Ricky craven said at least 50% of teams are cheating

  11. If teams weren’t trying to find an edge, and I believe they all are, all cars would be equal and it would be a follow the leader race on the track as no one would have anything extra to pass unless a driver error is made. Races would then be won from the pits, not on the track racing.

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