Kevin Harvick’s race-winning auto fails inspection; had illegal spoiler during inspection

Harvick loses Championship 4 spot after penalty			Image by Kinrade  LAT

Harvick loses Championship 4 spot after penalty Image by Kinrade LAT

NASCAR found Harvick had an illegal race-winning auto - his second of the season - after his victory at Texas Motor Speedway earned him an automatic berth in the November 18 title race in Florida.

Harvick was also barred from using the win as an automatic entry into the final four for the November 18 championship race at Homestead.

However, NASCAR announced on Wednesday that the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion was not quite up to spec, and was popped with an L1 penalty when the auto was inspected at NASCAR's Research and Development Center.

As punishment, Harvick and the #4 team lost 40 points in the Driver's and Owner's Championships, respectively.

Tony Gibson will fill-in as crew chief on the No. 4 team with Nick DeFazio as substitute auto chief.

Stewart-Haas Racing will not appeal the penalty.

We will start by calling this the week of controversy and penalties. "Instead, we will direct our immediate focus to this weekend's event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the race track". With the penalty, Harvick is still in the playoffs on merit, but just three points ahead of teammate Kurt Busch for the final spot. Harvick enters this weekend's race at Phoenix fourth among the remaining eight playoff drivers, three points above the cutline. Harvick has won nine times there in the Cup Series over the course of his career including this season's March race.

- Due to the No. 4 team's infraction, Miller said NASCAR will now be unbolting every spoiler and examining them during at-track inspection for the final two races. Logano grabbed the first spot, which meant the best SHR could do was qualify three cars for Homestead. NASCAR took three cars back to its R&D Center after Texas and all three failed teardown inspections.

NASCAR announced the mistake during the race and said Monday it has updated its procedures to prevent a similar mistake moving forward.

Now Harvick's team has been rocked by a penalty that may change the composition of the final four drivers racing for the title.

- NASCAR will perform an engine teardown and enhanced post-race inspection immediately after the Homestead race (as it has done in the past) rather than wait until midweek to scrutinize the championship auto for any amusing business. Driver Ryan Blaney loses 20 driver points, and the team loses 20 owner points.

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

Miller was asked if he thought "ridiculous" was an accurate word to describe how teams are approaching the inspection process. Nick DeFazio will be the interim vehicle chief.

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