Kevin Harvick penalized for Texas car, loses automatic playoff berth

NASCAR has taken away the playoff spot won by Kevin Harvick on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway after illegal alterations were found to have been made to the rear spoiler.

Harvick’s team has seen their automatic playoff berth for the championship race on Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway taken away as well as the docking of 40 points. Crew chief Rodney Childers and car chief Robert Smith were each suspended for the last two races of the season, and Childers was fined $75,000.

“It is not our desire to issue any penalties but will do so when necessary to ensure each race and championship is contested on a level playing field,” NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said.

The penalty leaves Harvick clinging to the final playoff spot available on points, as he sits three points ahead of Kurt Busch and 17 points ahead of Chase Elliott going into the elimination race Sunday at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

Tony Gibson will replace Childers for the final two races of the season and SHR will not appeal the penalties.

“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,” SHR vice president of competition Greg Zipadelli said Wednesday in a statement. “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.”

Joey Logano is locked into the final four. At-least two drivers will now make the final four via points and possibility a third depending on who wins at Phoenix on Sunday.

Kyle Busch (28 points ahead of his brother Kurt) and Martin Truex Jr. (25 points ahead) have sizable leads for the final playoff spot that should be able to earn them entry into the championship round at Homestead-Miami barring a disaster at Phoenix.

NASCAR on Wednesday also penalized Ryan Blaney, who finished second at Texas, and Erik Jones, who finished fourth. They were docked 20 points as well as having their car chiefs suspended for two races and their crew chiefs fined $50,000.