Kevin Harvick stripped of berth in NASCAR title race

Kevin Harvick wins

Kevin Harvick wins

After recent race victor Kevin Harvick was docked 40 points and had his automatic berth into the next round of the playoffs taken away as the result of a non-compliant spoiler, NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller essentially told teams to knock off the amusing stuff.

The whopping penalty negated the automatic berth Harvick earned into NASCAR's version of a final four.

"It is not our desire to issue any penalties, but we'll do so when necessary to ensure each race and championship is contested on a level playing field", Miller said earlier Wednesday.

Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team thought they had clinched their spot in the Championship 4 after taking the checkered flag at Texas this past weekend. Tony Gibson, who has worked as a crew chief on various SHR cars and now serves as the team's production manager, will fill in for Childers. "We will not appeal the penalty. We will direct our immediate focus to this weekend's event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the racetrack".

The stripping of all win bonuses, plus the championship point reduction, means that Harvick is now just three points above the cutline to advance into the Championship Race.

The three drivers who sit below Busch in the playoff picture are Hendrick Motorsports' Chase Elliott and Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer. The team has not made any members available for comment, and Harvick is not scheduled to speak to the media at Phoenix, where he is a nine-time victor. Johnson was sent to the back of the field because NASCAR believed his auto failed inspection three times, but he had failed only twice. He trails Martin Truex Jr.by 25 points and Kyle Busch by 28. Harvick won in dominating fashion as he swept all three stages of the race.

Miller vowed intense scrutiny on the four championship-contending cars at Homestead, and said the post-race procedure is similar to the Daytona 500, where engines are examined at the track after the race. All three were expected to race for the championship, and none is qualified for Homestead yet with one race remaining. NASCAR had moved away in recent years from detailing infractions publicly. Ryan Blaney's team was punished and so was the team for Erik Jones. Crew chief Chris Gayle is fined $50,000, and auto chief Jason Overstreet is suspended for the next two races.

NASCAR announced penalties that carried heavy fines on Wednesday following Texas Motor Speedway. Nick DeFazio will serve as interim auto chief. Miller said the sanctioning body will look during the offseason at tougher penalties if a team that can't even pass the first round of inspection. Harvick has seven wins in his last 12 starts at Phoenix and nine wins in 31 starts overall.

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