SportKevin Harvick penalties alter course of NASCAR playoffs, add intrigue to Phoenix

00:20  09 november  2018
00:20  09 november  2018 Source:   usatoday.com

Kyle Busch ready to kick off his "best round" in NASCAR playoffs

Kyle Busch ready to kick off his If there are serious questions about whether the “Big 3” will make it to the Championship 4 in Homestead, somebody forgot to tell Kyle Busch. Of the three top drivers entering the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs (Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.), Busch is the trio’s most recent race winner. Busch won the Sept. 22 race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, the only driver in the trio to win in the playoffs so far. The trio’s lack of wins have raised questions about whether they will all advance to Homestead as many had predicted.

Kevin Harvick said Friday that he was unsure whether his Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team would file an appeal for an Harvick ’s remarks came Friday morning before opening practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at ISM Raceway at Phoenix , where he has won a record eight times.

Kevin Harvick is no longer locked into a NASCAR Cup Series playoff spot, as his race-winning car from Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway was found to have illegal alterations to the rear spoiler. NASCAR slammed the Stewart-Haas Racing team with penalties , including not allowing Harvick to

Kevin Harvick penalties alter course of NASCAR playoffs, add intrigue to Phoenix© Jim Dedmon, USA TODAY Sports Kevin Harvick leads all drivers with nine career NASCAR Cup Series wins at ISM Raceway. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs received a huge jolt when officials announced massive penalties to driver Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team.

Harvick had dominated the playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, and his victory served as guaranteed admission to be among the final four drivers who will contest the championship Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

And then it didn’t.

NASCAR swept that guarantee away after a thorough inspection of Harvick’s Ford at its Research and Development Center, standard for the winning car after every race, revealed that a part of his car was reconfigured to give him an advantage at Texas. Inspectors at the R&D Center found an illegal spoiler that they believe produced an aerodynamic advantage for Harvick when he drove through the turns at Texas.

NASCAR America: Is Kevin Harvick still the championship favorite?

NASCAR America: Is Kevin Harvick still the championship favorite? Kevin Harvick once appeared to be a favorite to win the championship. Recent pit road issues makes that less certain.

Harvick will lose seven playoff points, 20 regular-season points, see his crew chief fined and car chief suspended in penalties announced Some of the sparkle from Kevin Harvick ’s dominating win in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway disappeared

Kevin Harvick said Friday that the psyche of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team is Harvick ’s response may be reason enough for the rest of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series field to be In addition to the loss of seven playoff points, the team lost 20 points from the overall championship

The penalties issued Wednesday were costly and drastically altered the state of play in the Round of 8, not just for Harvick but the six other drivers who are hoping to land a berth in the championship round. Joey Logano clinched his spot with a victory at Martinsville Speedway in the first race of the third round two weeks ago.

Although Harvick technically gets to keep his win at Texas, he was stripped of the ability to use it to lock himself into the championship race. And while that was the biggest and most obvious setback, NASCAR tacked on additional penalties to the No. 4 team. Harvick was docked 40 points, which dropped him from the top of the playoff standings to fourth, just three points above the cutline.

He will also lose the expertise of the two most important members of his No. 4. team as NASCAR suspended crew chief Rodney Childers and car chief Robert Smith for two races — Sunday’s Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC) and the championship race at Homestead. Childers was also fined $75,000.

NASCAR's title in sight as playoffs continue at Martinsville

NASCAR's title in sight as playoffs continue at Martinsville NASCAR begins the third round of the playoffs at Martinsville Speedway with eight drivers still remaining in contention for the championship. A win at Martinsville on Sunday, or at one of the next two races, earns one of those drivers an automatic berth into the championship finale. Kyle Busch will start from the pole as he represents the so-called Big Three at the front of the field at Martinsville. Busch has combined with Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. to dominate most of this season, and all three are trying to earn one of the four slots at the Homestead-Miami Speedway finale.

Kevin Harvick . Stewart-Haas Racing. Kevin Harvick competes full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing. The 2014 champion has 44 career wins and earned Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in 2001.

Kevin Harvick at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, where he won. NASCAR announced that the penalty from Texas was for Harvick ’s spoiler, and this was all the sanctioning body said about what was wrong with it Spoilers must be used exactly as supplied from the manufacturer and not altered .

All of that could spell disaster for Harvick’s bid to add a second championship to the one he claimed in 2014. Yet for fans of the No. 4 team, there is a small silver lining: the location of Sunday’s race.

If there is one track on the Cup schedule where Harvick should feel confident about overcoming adversity, it’s ISM Raceway. No driver, active or retired, has had more success in Phoenix than Harvick.

The Bakersfield, California, native has nine Cup wins at the 1-mile track, including seven in his last 12 races. He has produced top-five finishes in 15 of 31 Cup races in Phoenix, and his average finish is 9.5, tied with Dale Earnhardt Sr. for best among all drivers with at least six starts. And no one has led more laps in the desert. Harvick’s 1,522 laps led dwarfs his next closest competitor, Jimmie Johnson with 990.

So Harvick knows how to win in Phoenix. He celebrated in victory lane this spring, but more important, he took the checkered flag in the 2014 playoff race.

NASCAR strips Kevin Harvick’s berth in title race

NASCAR strips Kevin Harvick’s berth in title race NASCAR's ruling means Kevin Harvick still must race his way into the championship field.

Kevin Harvick responded aggressively to penalties NASCAR issued his team, saying the decisions — Former champion Kevin Harvick responded aggressively to penalties NASCAR issued his There was talk in the Cup garage Friday that the altered window could have been an aerodynamic advantage.

With Kevin Harvick losing his assured championship berth due to penalty , here The last time Kevin Harvick arrived in Phoenix to race amid a cloud of controversy, he promptly Here is how the seven playoff drivers vying for three spots stack heading into Phoenix (revised since the Harvick penalty )

Heading into that contest, Harvick was last among the eight remaining playoff drivers in the standings after a disastrous third-round opener at Martinsville, and while he salvaged quite a few points with a runner-up finish in Texas, he came to Phoenix in a must-win situation.  Harvick not only won that race, he dominated, leading 264 of 312 laps. That victory propelled him to Homestead, where he won again to clinch his first championship.

The six other playoff drivers battling for a spot in the final four know Harvick will be a factor on Sunday with or without his crew chief and car chief. They might even be more worried, knowing that Harvick will be more laser focused on winning now that he no longer has a guaranteed spot in the championship race.

For Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott and Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer, an extra path has opened to Homestead. Three Championship 4 berths will be on the line at Phoenix instead of two. But they will still have to catch Harvick on the track.

NASCAR at Phoenix: Live race updates, highlights from Can-Am 500.
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