Harvick's championship berth spoiled by NASCAR inspectors

Harvick's championship berth spoiled by NASCAR inspectors

Crew chief Jeremy Bullins has been fined $50,000 and the team will lose 20 driver and owner points.

NASCAR stripped Harvick's automatic berth into the Cup championship race after his winning vehicle failed inspection following the win at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday.

The issue was with a spoiler that had been modified to give Harvick an aerodynamic advantage as he dominated and won for a Cup Series-high eighth time this season.

NASCAR later allowed Miller to answer questions about Harvick's penalty because of the magnitude of the situation.

Once NASCAR had the auto back from Texas and in its Research and Development Center, the spoiler was removed and determined not to be the part supplied by the vendor.

NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller revealed additional details on the L1-level penalty issued Wednesday to the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team, saying the spoiler on Kevin Harvick's vehicle was "absolutely, 100 percent, no question" not in compliance with the NASCAR Rule Book.

The details were unveiled late Wednesday, 10 hours after Harvick's spot in the finale was revoked. Not only did Harvick lose his spot in the final four at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but he must race the final two weeks of the season without his crew chief and vehicle chief.

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"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. Harvick now enters this weekend's race at Phoenix fourth among the remaining eight playoff drivers, three points above the cutline.

- A NASCAR inspector at the track had noticed something "a little suspicious" about the spoiler at the track, Miller said.

Few sports have as complicated a relationship with cheating as NASCAR does.

Stewart-Haas accepted the penalty and will not appeal, according to vice president of Greg Zipadelli.

The 2014 Cup Series champion is a nine-time victor at Phoenix, including earlier this year.

The three drivers who sit below Busch in the playoff picture are Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott and Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer.

It wasn't just SHR last weekend, either. That led officials to further examine it after returning to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in North Carolina. The #12 Team Penske team of Ryan Blaney and the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing club of Erik Jones suffered 20-point penalties and crew chief suspensions for their infractions. Johnson was sent to the back of the field because NASCAR believed his vehicle failed inspection three times, but he had failed only twice. Once that happened, it was "100 percent, as black and white as it gets", Miller said. "We're under time constraints at the race track to do these inspections". "It's getting borderline ridiculous".