Harvick: Cheat? I just drive
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Kevin Harvick shrugged off a cheating scandal to show he’s still a legitimate title contender in NASCAR’s Cup series by winning the pole for his final crack at making the championship race.
As for what exactly happened with his racewinning car last weekend, Harvick didn’t offer any new information after claiming the top starting spot for Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway outside Phoenix.
“I don’t build the cars. I can’t tell you what’s good and what’s bad. I just show up and drive the cars,” Harvick said Friday.
But his crew chief, Rodney Childers, said Stewart-Haas Racing modified the spoiler on Harvick’s car for the Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend because other teams were already doing similar alterations. Childers is suspended for the final two races of the season as Harvick tries to overcome a devastating penalty issued this week for what NASCAR determined was a blatant case of cheating, a penalty that cost him a spot in the playoff ’s final four.
When the spoiler was removed from Harvick’s No. 4 Ford during an extensive inspection in North Carolina after his win, NASCAR discovered the part had been altered.
It is NASCAR’s belief that Stewart-Haas Racing 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.
Stewart-Haas Racing did not appeal the penalty and acknowledged “NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book.”
Harvick was contentious at his news conference after winning the pole, declining to delve into the scandal but praising the organization for its strong effort Friday.
“It’s more about people than it is about cars, and we’ve got a lot of good people,” he said.
Childers elaborated in a series of Twitter posts early Friday in which he said Stewart-Haas Racing made the decision to move the spoiler after other teams shifted their decklids and spoilers to the right in the Hollywood Casino 400 on Oct. 21 at Kansas Speedway. Childers said it was too late for the team to move the decklid for the Texas race.
He also said there were no hard feelings between NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing, which has all four of its drivers still eligible for the final three playoff spots 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 victory in the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas on March 4 was also disqualified. The Texas 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 playoff ’s final four.
Joey Logano, the only driver already locked into next weekend’s title race, was not bothered by the accusations against Harvick’s team. He also said he’s not wondering if Stewart-Haas Racing or others have been cheating all year.
“Everyone pushes hard, and it’s nothing new,” Logano said. “We like making … a big stink out of it, but honestly, it is part of our sport.”
Kevin Harvick celebrates his win in Sunday’s Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, a win NASCAR took away this week for what it called blatant cheating by his team with a car part.