Har­vick’s cham­pi­onship berth spoiled by in­spec­tors

Yuma Sun - - SUN SPORTS -

CHAR­LOTTE, N.C. — Kevin Har­vick’s bid for a se­cond NASCAR ti­tle suf­fered a mas­sive set­back when he was stripped of his berth in the cham­pi­onship race after se­ries in­spec­tors found his win­ning car from Texas Mo­tor Speed­way had been de­lib­er­ately al­tered to give him a per­for­mance ad­van­tage.

NASCAR said Wed­nes­day night it be­lieves Har­vick’s spoiler was in­ten­tion­ally off­set to the right to give the Ford an aero­dy­namic ad­van­tage when he drove through the cor­ners at Texas. NASCAR can’t prove if Ste­wartHaas Rac­ing made its own spoiler or al­tered one from its man­u­fac­turer, but se­nior vice pres­i­dent of com- pe­ti­tion Scott Miller said the penalty is the same in ei­ther case.

The il­le­gal spoiler was not found un­til the No. 4 Ford in­terim crew chief and Nick re­ceived a thor­ough in­spec- DeFazio will be in­terim car tion at NASCAR’s Re­search chief. and De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter Har­vick’s win at Texas when it was re­turned to was his se­ries-lead­ing North Carolina after Sun­day’s eighth of the year and qual­i­fied race. An in­spec­tor at him for Homestead Texas thought the spoiler along with Joey Logano. looked off, but Miller said it Har­vick won the 2014 Cup had to be re­moved from the Se­ries cham­pi­onship and car. Once that hap­pened, it went to Phoenix that sea­son was “100 per­cent, as black in a must-win sit­u­a­tion to and white as it gets,” Miller race for the ti­tle. He pulled said. it off and is a nine-time win­ner

The whop­ping penalty at Phoenix, in­clud­ing negated the au­to­matic berth ear­lier this year. Har­vick earned into NASCAR’s The penalty is dis­as­trous ver­sion of a fi­nal for SHR, which went into four. In ad­di­tion to los­ing the third round of the play­offs his spot in next week­end’s with all four of its driv­ers fi­nale at Homestead-Mi­ami el­i­gi­ble for the cham­pi­onship. Speed­way, Har­vick must Logano grabbed also close out the fi­nal two the first spot, which meant races of the sea­son with­out the best SHR could do was crew chief Rod­ney Childers qual­ify three cars for Homestead. and car chief Robert Smith. Now, SHR could wind Both were sus­pended for up locked out of the fi­nale two races. Childers also was out­right if Har­vick doesn’t fined $75,000. ad­vance past Phoenix. Aric

Har­vick was docked 40 Almirola, Kurt Busch and driver points, and Ste­wartHaas Clint Bowyer are all below Rac­ing was docked the cut­line and likely need 40 owner points as well. to win at Phoenix to ad­vance. Har­vick en­ters this week­end’s race at Phoenix fourth The penalty against Har­vick among the re­main­ing eight also closes a rough race play­off driv­ers, three points for NASCAR, which er­ro­neously above the cut­line. Should pe­nal­ized Jim­mie there be a tie for the fi­nal John­son mo­ments be­fore trans­fer spot, Har­vick the race be­gan. John­son would not be el­i­gi­ble to use was sent to the back of the the Texas vic­tory in the tiebreak­ing field be­cause NASCAR be­lieved pro­ce­dure. his car failed in­spec­tion

Greg Zi­padelli, vice pres­i­dent three times, but he had of com­pe­ti­tion at SHR, failed only twice. said the team will not ap­peal NASCAR an­nounced the the penal­ties. Tony mis­take dur­ing the race and Gib­son will be Har­vick’s said Mon­day it has up­dated its pro­ce­dures to pre­vent a sim­i­lar mis­take mov­ing for­ward. Later in the same event, Bowyer was pe­nal­ized for a crew mem­ber be­ing over the pit road wall too early. The crew mem­ber was sit­ting on the wall with his feet touch­ing the as­phalt on pit road, which was a vi­o­la­tion, even if it seemed ex­treme.

Now Har­vick’s team has been rocked by a penalty that may change the com­po­si­tion of the fi­nal four driv­ers rac­ing for the ti­tle. Har­vick, along with Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., is part of NASCAR’s so-called Big Three that dom­i­nated the sea­son through a stretch of sum­mer rac­ing. All three were ex­pected to race for the cham­pi­onship, and none is qual­i­fied for Homestead yet with one race re­main­ing.

“It is not our de­sire to is­sue any penal­ties, but we’ll do so when nec­es­sary to en­sure each race and cham­pi­onship is con­tested on a level play­ing field,” Miller said ear­lier Wed­nes­day. “We will now re­turn our fo­cus to Phoenix, and the battle for a cham­pi­onship.”

NASCAR later al­lowed Miller to an­swer ques­tions about Har­vick’s penalty be­cause of the mag­ni­tude of the sit­u­a­tion. NASCAR had moved away in re­cent years from de­tail­ing in­frac­tions pub­licly.

Also Wed­nes­day, NASCAR pe­nal­ized the teams of Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones, who al­ready have been elim­i­nated from the play­offs.

Blaney crew chief Jeremy Bullins was fined $50,000, and car chief Kirk Almquist was sus­pended for the next two races. Jones crew chief Chris Gayle was fined $50,000 and car chief Ja­son Over­street was sus­pended the next two races.

It took un­til Wed­nes­day for the penal­ties to be an­nounced be­cause the cars were in tran­sit Mon­day from Texas to North Carolina. In­spec­tion was on Tues­day, and the teams do the ac­tual tear­down them­selves. 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 car chief will prac­tice at Phoenix.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

KEVIN HAR­VICK cel­e­brates in Vic­tory Lane after win­ning a NASCAR Cup auto race at Texas Mo­tor Speed­way, Sun­day in Fort Worth, Texas.

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