Kevin Harvick‘s road to the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship just became more difficult. On Wednesday morning, NASCAR announced Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 winner has received an L1-level penalty, nullifying his victory and revoking his guaranteed spot in the Championship Round.
Following R&D inspection after the race, Harvick’s #4 car was found to have an altered spoiler. According to Section 20.4.12 of NASCAR’s rulebook, all spoilers must be as received from the manufacturer without adjustments.
As punishment, Harvick and the #4 team lost 40 points in the Driver’s and Owner’s Championships, respectively. With the reduction, Harvick falls to fourth in the standings and may not use his Texas win as a tiebreaker should such a situation arise. In the playoffs, all ties are determined by a driver’s best finish in the round; currently, Harvick’s highest Round of 8 run is tenth at Martinsville Speedway.
Furthermore, crew chief Rodney Childers and car chief Robert Smith will miss the final two races of the season; the former was also fined $75,000. Tony Gibson, who has worked as a crew chief on various SHR cars and currently serves as the team’s production manager, will fill in for Childers. Nick DeFazio will be the interim car chief.
Despite the hit, Stewart-Haas Racing does not intend to appeal.
“We work tirelessly across every inch of our race cars to create speed and, unfortunately, NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book,” SHR Vice President of Competition Greg Zipadelli stated. “We will not appeal the penalty. Instead, we will direct our immediate focus to this weekend’s event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the race track.”
The final race of the Round of 8 is the Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway. Although Harvick has dominated the track in recent years, the upcoming race will be the first on a new layout.
Harvick is not the only driver to get an L1 penalty. 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. Incidentally, Blaney and Jones’ team-mates are also in championship contention, with the former’s Joey Logano locked into the final round and the latter’s Kyle Busch fighting for a spot.