Kevin Harvick stripped of berth in NASCAR championship race

Kevin Harvick wins

Kevin Harvick wins

NASCAR on Wednesday hit Harvick with an L1-level penalty for use of an illegal spoiler. However, NASCAR believes the No. 4 team actually manufactured its own spoiler and passed it off as the standard one - except the illegal spoiler was offset to the right in relation to the center of the auto, which was "definitely (an) aerodynamic performance (advantage)", Miller said.

The rule in question states that spoilers must be used exactly as supplied from the manufacturer and not altered. The infraction was discovered in post-race tear down at the NASCAR Research & Development Center.

Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team thought they had clinched their spot in the Championship 4 after taking the checkered flag at Texas this past weekend. Harvick now enters this weekend's race at Phoenix fourth among the remaining eight playoff drivers, three points above the cutline.

Miller said NASCAR officials at ISM Raceway in Phoenix this weekend will further scrutinize all spoilers before cars go on track as a response to the penalty.

"We certainly can't bring the 40-car field back to R&D", Miller said, elaborating on how issues get missed at the track. Those penalties also include the suspensions of crew chief Rodney Childers and auto chief Robert "Cheddar" Smith for the remaining two races of the 2018 season and a $75,000 fine for Childers.

NASCAR provided a statement from senior vice president of competition Scott Miller.

He's been in NASCAR's final three of the last four years.

NASCAR will evaluate its penalty system following the season, a typical procedure and one that could spark additional internal debate about whether NASCAR needs to start disqualifying teams for violations and whether it must crack down on teams failing inspections multiple times prior to qualifying and the race.

The 2014 Cup Series champion is a nine-time victor at Phoenix, including earlier this year. NASCAR doesn't penalize teams for a prequalifying or prerace inspection failure and penalizes the team practice time the following week for two inspection failures. Logano grabbed the first spot, which meant the best SHR could do was qualify three cars for Homestead.

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

Blaney's crew chief Jeremy Bullins and Jones' crew chief Chris Gayle have also been fined $50,000 each. Ryan Blaney's team was punished and so was the team for Erik Jones. Nick DeFazio will serve as interim vehicle chief. Jones crew chief Chris Gayle was fined $50,000 and vehicle chief Jason Overstreet was suspended the next two races.

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