Kevin Harvick Revoked of 2018 NASCAR Cup Championship 4 Berth After Texas Race Penalty
Harvick's Stewart-Haas Racing crew chief and car chief will also be suspended for the remainder of the 2018 season.
Kevin Harvick left Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday seemingly locked into the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs championship round after his win of the AAA Texas 500. However, severe penalties announced by NASCAR on Wednesday morning made his playoff advancement not so secure.
A win by a playoff driver normally clinches them a berth in the next round. Despite that, an issue with the rear spoiler on Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, discovered during a tear-down inspection at NASCAR’s research and development center, resulted in penalties that included the negation of playoff benefits that normally come with race wins.
Harvick was also docked 40 points, making his work to advance even tougher if he doesn't win the only remaining race of the round at Phoenix. The points penalty dropped him to fourth in the standings among the remaining eight playoff drivers, three points ahead of the cutoff.
Harvick’s team has the ability to appeal the penalties issued after the Texas race, but the team has announced it will not exercise that option. Those penalties also include the suspensions of crew chief Rodney Childers and car chief Robert “Cheddar” Smith for the remaining two races of the 2018 season and a $75,000 fine for Childers.
"We work tirelessly across every inch of our racecars to create speed, and unfortunately, NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book,” Stewart-Haas Racing Vice President of Competition Greg Zipadelli said Wednesday in a statement released by the team. "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."
Tony Gibson will fill-in as crew chief on the No. 4 team with Nick DeFazio as substitute car chief.
Those advancing will include playoff drivers with “clean” wins in the current round, followed by those in the top four of the points standings after Phoenix. Joey Logano is the only individual with a championship four playoff berth already clinched, courtesy of a win at Martinsville Speedway.
Harvick, the 2014 Cup Series champion, has been a major presence throughout the 2018 season, leading the series in race wins with eight. He also is a favorite for the race at ISM Raceway with nine career wins there, including the most recent competition at the track earlier in March.
Harvick dominated the AAA Texas 500, leading 177 laps of the race that was extended to 337 laps by an overtime restart, and winning both 85-lap stages.