Kevin Harvick was flagged the winner of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, and seemed to lock himself into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks.
But the wheels came off of on Wednesday morning, as NASCAR announced a massive penalty that leaves Harvick’s win encumbered, and puts him just three points above the cutoff.
NASCAR officials assessed an L-1 penalty on the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team after discovering post-race an infraction with the spoiler on the winning Ford at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center.
Harvick’s win on Sunday is now encumbered, meaning it will not give him an automatic berth into the Championship 4. The team also loses 40 drivers point and 40 owner points, leaving him on the bubble – just three points ahead of teammate Kurt Busch at the cutoff line.
Harvick’s Crew Chief, Rodney Childers, has been fined $75,000 and is suspended for the next two MENCS races – effectively sidelining him for the rest of the season. Car Chief Robert Smith has also been suspended from the next two events.
With Harvick, penalty, Joey Logano remains the only driver locked into the Championship 4 at Miami, with three slots still open. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. sit 28 and 25 points above the cutoff, respectively, and look to be on solid ground to move on.
With the penalty, Harvick now finds himself in a three way battle for the final transfer spot. Kurt Busch trails by just three points, while Dawsonville, Georgia’s Chase Elliott is now only 17 markers behind. Aric Almirola trails by 35 points, with Clint Bowyer 51 back, leaving both in “must win” situations to make the cut.