Kevin Harvick loses automatic NASCAR championship berth after failing inspection

Kevin Harvick’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff spot is no longer guaranteed after his race-winning car from Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway was found to have illegal alterations to the rear spoiler. 

NASCAR announced the penalties against the Stewart-Haas Racing team, which included knocking Harvick out of using the automatic berth to be among four drivers vying for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 18. 

HUGE NASCAR playoff news: Kevin Harvick’s win at Texas ruled encumbered. Harvick no longer locked in to Homestead, Rodney Childers and car chief Cheddar Smith suspended for rest of season and Harvick loses 40 points. Harvick now goes into Phoenix only three points above cutline.

Here is the rule Harvick’s team violated (both a and b here, NASCAR says).

“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.

Additionally, Harvick was docked 40 points, crew chief Rodney Childers and car chief Robert Smith were suspended for the last two races of the season, and Childers was fined $75,000.

Stewart-Haas Racing team will not appeal the penalty and former Cup crew chief Tony Gibson will replace Childers.

“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.”

Harvick still has the possibility to clinch the final playoff spot available on points. 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.

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