Kevin Harvick stripped of berth in NASCAR championship race

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

The infraction was discovered when NASCAR gave the vehicle a further inspection in North Carolina. The infraction was discovered in postrace inspection at the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. Not only did Harvick lose his spot in the final four at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but he must race the final two weeks of the season without his crew chief and vehicle chief.

Spoilers will be checked at Phoenix this weekend, Miller said, and NASCAR will likely ramp up its penalties next year. He sits three points ahead of Kurt Busch and 17 points ahead of Chase Elliott heading into the elimination race Sunday at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

"We need to change the culture to where we don't have to play this cat and mouse game with the teams", Miller said.

"We have small windows and tight windows to get the inspections done, and we might spend in the neighborhood of five minutes with each of the 40 cars for the three-hour window that we have for inspection", Miller said.

"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 said.

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"As black and white as it gets", Miller said in a Wednesday night conference call. Harvick's win at Texas no longer automatically qualifies the team for the Championship 4 in Miami. Harvick has seven wins in his last 12 starts at Phoenix and nine wins in 31 starts overall.

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. Although this isn't the proper time for Martin Truex Jr. or Aric Almirola to get Logano back, if either one has his eligibility ended or becomes locked into the Championship 4, don't be surprised when cameras cut to Logano hitting the wall after one of those drivers, or even a new Logano hater, hits him to end his race.

Scott Miller, NASCAR's senior vice president of competition, said he felt SHR took the notion of pushing boundaries and exploring technology "into borderline ridiculous territory". NASCAR had moved away in recent years from detailing infractions publicly. Crew chief Jeremy Bullins is fined $50,000, and vehicle chief Kirk Almquist is suspended for the next two races.

Also Wednesday, NASCAR penalized the teams of Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones, who already have been eliminated from the playoffs. Nick DeFazio will serve as interim auto 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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