Harvick Stripped Of Round Of Four Berth

Lynette Rowe
November 11, 2018

Talking to reporters in a Wednesday night teleconference about the penalty to Stewart-Haas Racing's No. 4 team, senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said that several issues will be be discussed over the winter.

"It is not our desire to issue any penalties but will do so when necessary to ensure each race and championship is contested on a level playing field", Miller said.

"Yeah, we'll have to take them off and match them up against the part that it's supposed to be", Miller said. "It's getting borderline ridiculous".

NASCAR announced the penalties against the Stewart-Haas Racing team, which included knocking Harvick out of using the automatic berth to be among four drivers vying for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18. Auto chief Robert Smith has also been suspended from the next two Cup Series races. "So we'll just ramp up the intensity of keeping people with eyes on those cars throughout the weekend and scrutinize those cars heavily, both before and after the race". NASCAR also hit Childers with a $75,000 fine.

Harvick has been docked 40 driver points and the team loses 40 owner points as well. Harvick now enters this weekend's race at Phoenix fourth among the remaining eight playoff drivers, three points above the cutline. As part of the penalty, Harvick can not use the win at TMS in a tiebreaker.

Greg Zipadellil, SHR's vice president of communications, said the team will not appeal the penalty.

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Zipadelli said Tony Gibson will come out of retirement to work as interim crew chief.

ISM Raceway in Phoenix represents Harvick's best chance to get a win that would guarantee his spot in the championship race.

Harvick won the 2014 Cup Series championship and went to Phoenix that season in a must-win situation to race for the title. NASCAR has for several years refused to give specifics about infractions - keeping secret ideas on how to game the system - but reversed course on the Harvick penalty because of mounting criticism about the severity of his punishment.

SHR will not appeal the penalties. Now, SHR could wind up locked out of the finale outright if Harvick doesn't advance past Phoenix. He is only three points above Kurt Busch, in fifth place.

The penalty against Harvick also closes a rough race for NASCAR, which erroneously penalized Jimmie Johnson moments before the race began. NASCAR took three cars back to its R&D Center after Texas and all three failed teardown inspections. Later in the same event, Bowyer was penalized for a crew member being over the pit road wall too early.

The last big scandal in NASCAR was in 2013, when Michael Waltrip Racing manipulated the finish of a race at Richmond to try to get Martin Truex Jr. into the playoffs. One of his victories came in the spring, part of a three-race winning streak marred by an illegal vehicle at Las Vegas one week earlier.

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