NASCAR sheds light on Kevin Harvick's illegal spoiler penalty

Kevin Harvick wins

Kevin Harvick wins

The topic came up as Kevin Harvick won Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, but NASCAR announced Wednesday that he had an illegal, team-manufactured spoiler instead of using the spec spoiler the team is supposed to purchase from a supplier and use without modification.

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. The infraction was discovered at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C. during post-race auto and engine teardown. This rule states that spoilers must be used exactly as supplied from the manufacturer and not altered. The infraction was discovered when NASCAR gave the vehicle a further inspection in North Carolina.

Additionally, Harvick was docked 40 points, crew chief Rodney Childers and vehicle chief Robert Smith were suspended for the last two races of the season, and Childers was fined $75,000. Harvick's win at Texas no longer automatically qualifies the team for the Championship 4 in Miami.

Harvick will enter Phoenix just three points above the cutline. He thought he had secured his spot in the championship race with his 45th career victory. He also is without crew chief Rodney Childers and vehicle chief Robert Smith for the rest of the season as both are suspended for two races.

The auto was found to have issues with the rear spoiler.

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

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

The stiff penalty on Harvick and SHR is for an issue related to the rear spoiler according to Section 20.4.12 of the NASCAR Rule Book. Logano grabbed the first spot, which meant the best SHR could do was qualify three cars for Homestead. Johnson was sent to the back of the field because NASCAR believed his auto failed inspection three times, but he had failed only twice.

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.

As a result, Harvick's victory does not count toward automatic advancement into the Championship Race at Homestead.

As far as other penalties go, Texas runner-up finisher Ryan Blaney and fourth-place finisher Erik Jones were each docked 20 points for postrace violations in addition to seeing their crew chiefs suspended for the final two contests. Jones crew chief Chris Gayle was fined $50,000 and auto chief Jason Overstreet was suspended the next two races. Nick DeFazio will serve as interim auto chief.