Suspended crew chief says other teams cheated first
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Kevin Harvick’s crew chief says Stewart-Haas Racing modified the spoiler on Harvick’s car because other teams were already doing similar alterations.
Rodney Childers is suspended for the final two races of the season and working at the race shop in North Carolina as Harvick tries to overcome a devastating penalty issued this week for what NASCAR determined was a blatant case of cheating.
Harvick won last weekend at Texas. When the spoiler was removed from his No. 4 Ford during an extensive inspection in North Carolina, NASCAR discovered the part had been altered.
It is NASCAR’s belief that SHR built its own spoiler and tried to pass it off as one distributed by the vendor. The spoiler was offset to the right and NASCAR says it gave Harvick an aerodynamic advantage.
SHR did not appeal the penalty and acknowledged “NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book.”
Childers elaborated in a series of tweets early Friday morning in which he said SHR made the decision to move the spoiler after other teams shifted their decklids and spoilers to the right in the previous 1.5-mile race at Kansas Speedway. Childers said it was too late for the team to move the decklid for the Texas race.
“This year there isn’t a number or officiating on the offset of the decklid and spoiler together on the car. And at Kansas we noticed people we were racing had the spoilers and decklids further to the right than ours. And it was too late to move the decklid over more,” Childers posted on Twitter.
Additional posts claimed the downforce advantage was “4 counts. That’s 0.04% of the total downforce of the car. If you think 4 counts is the reason we won you’re way wrong.”
He also said there were no hard feelings between NASCAR and SHR, which has all four of its drivers still eligible for the playoffs and has been the most dominant organization in NASCAR all season.
Harvick leads the series with eight victories, but two were with illegal cars. His Las Vegas victory from earlier this year was disqualified, as was last week’s Texas win. That disqualification cost Harvick his automatic berth into next weekend’s championship race and Childers and car chief Robert Smith are suspended.
Harvick is still mathematically in contention to advance into the final four and he’s a nine-time winner at Phoenix, site of Sunday’s final championship-qualifying event. He won at Phoenix earlier this year.
Harvick, the 2014 champion, had no scheduled media availability at ISM Raceway outside of Phoenix as of Friday morning. SHR has declined to make any team officials available for comment.
But Joey Logano, the only driver already locked into next week’s title race, was not bothered by the accusations against Harvick’s team. He also said he’s not wondering if SHR, or others, have been cheating all year.
“Everyone pushes hard and it’s nothing new,” Logano said. “We like making a big deal out of it, a big stink out of it, but honestly it is part of our sport. There are a lot more items on our cars than there is in football. As competitors we push to that edge and sometimes we go a little over the edge and sometimes it’s all about the way you interpret the rulebook.”
Tony Gibson, interim crew chief, looks on during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway on Friday in Phoenix, Arizona. Crew chief Rodney Childers was suspended for the remainder of the season due to a postrace penalty in Texas last week.