Kevin Harvick strongly disagrees with the scenario surrounding his penalty following last week’s Pennzoil 400 victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR handed Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team an L1 penalty earlier this week when the car was brought back to the R&D Center for further inspection. The team was found to have violated Sections 126.96.36.199 (dealing with rear window support) and 20.4.18 (rocker panel extensions), specifically. A brace that supports the rear window failed and did not meet specifications for keeping the rear window glass rigid in all directions, at all times. Additionally, the rocker panel extension was not aluminum.
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Harvick lost 20 driver points as well as the seven playoff points he earned for wining the race and preceding two stages. His car chief Robert Smith was suspended for two races while crew chief Rodney Childers was fined $50,000.
Harvick does not believe his team deserved the penalty and shared his thoughts Friday at ISM Raceway in Phoenix in preparation for Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500.
“As you look at the penalty itself it is very confusing,” he said. “I think as you look at all the chatter that was created on social media afterwards — the whole findings of the whole thing started with the roof braces not working in the car which are non-mandatory braces that exist in the back of the roof. That is what squished it down. The window bracing itself, there were no issues with. When you look at the perpendicular bar, there is no specific way it says it has to be connected. Ours is connected.
“As you look at the bracing itself, there was no issue with that. The roof caved in, pulled the back and top of the window down, and that is really the root of the social media outrage that came after the race. The car passed all the optical scanning station inspections and everything after the race. The car was built to tolerance.”
While Harvick’s car passed post-race inspection at track on Sunday, the infractions were found when it was taken back to the R&D Center. Harvick doesn’t think that process and procedure is healthy for the sport.
“The root of the problem is that my friends that don’t follow racing are very confused on a penalty that comes out on Wednesday,” he said. “That is the part we need to fix. If we have a fine, I am fine with that. I am going to go race the car, we will put the cars together and we will get over it and move on and the cars will run great and we will do all the things we want to do. As a sport, that is something that we have all been talking about.
“That was definitely something that the optical scanning station was definitely supposed to help alleviate. That is what we have been told. When there are things wrong, things fail, things happen, they still have to officiate the sport but when it comes out on Tuesday, to the casual fan it is very confusing.”
Although the team is still deciding whether to appeal the penalty, Harvick is prepared to get back behind the wheel this weekend in search of his third straight win and ninth career Cup victory at ISM Raceway.
“It just motivates us,” he said. “I can’t wait to win another race and jump up and down in victory lane on the back of my car.”