Published: Sun, November 11, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Harvick's championship berth spoiled by NASCAR inspectors - 11/7/2018 11:14:16 AM

Harvick's championship berth spoiled by NASCAR inspectors - 11/7/2018 11:14:16 AM

Kevin Harvick's road to the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship just became more hard.

NASCAR said Wednesday the discovery made after Harvick's win negates the automatic berth he earned into the finale.

"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", Zipadelli said.

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. Harvick gained the maximum 60 points at Texas because he won both stages (10 points each) and the race (worth 40 points).

Harvick's win at Texas was his series-leading eighth of the year and qualified him for Homestead along with Joey Logano.

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The stripping of all win bonuses, plus the championship point reduction, means that Harvick is now just three points above the cutline to advance into the Championship Race. As part of the penalty, Harvick can not use the win at TMS in a tiebreaker. Miller said the sanctioning body will look during the offseason at tougher penalties if a team that can't even pass the first round of inspection.

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

"We realize that we kind of probably need to ramp up the severity of what goes on at the race track, and we're hoping that we can change the culture to where we don't have to play this cat-and-mouse game with the teams all the time because we have to make it a little bit more outcome for them than just saying, 'Take that [piece] off, '" Miller said. "It's getting borderline ridiculous".

In the immediate aftermath when it comes to spoilers, Miller said NASCAR officials would be taking them off the cars this weekend at ISM Raceway and checking that they are the correct pieces. Its entire four-car lineup - Harvick, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola - is still eligible for the title race. "We will try to do that in pre-inspection, and then I think we have enough eyes to know if a spoiler comes off a auto, then we go on high alert on that one". 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. Driver Ryan Blaney loses 20 driver points, and the team loses 20 owner points. He trails Martin Truex 25 points and Kyle Busch by 28. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins is fined $50,000, and auto chief Kirk Almquist is suspended for the next two races. Inspection was on Tuesday, and the teams do the actual teardown themselves.

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