Kevin Harvick celebrates with a burnout after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series AAA Texas 500 on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.PHOTO BY MATT SULLIVAN | GETTY IMAGES FOR NASCAR
“This is getting into borderline ridiculous territory,” says Scott Miller
BY: MATT WEAVER
When NASCAR first revealed the playoff-altering penalty to Kevin Harvick and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team on Wednesday morning, it came in fairly generic terms. Of course, that’s assuming you’re up to speed on computer-aided designs (CAD), templates, spoilers and level 1 infractions.
Section 20.4.12.a & b Spoiler
Note: Vehicle spoiler must conform to the CAD file and drawing. Spoilers must be used exactly as supplied from the manufacturer. Rule 184.108.40.206.2(c) applied to race finish as a post-race L1 infraction.
That begged obvious questions about what crew chief Rodney Childers and company had done to the spoiler on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway to warrant the penalty. Did they modify a NASCAR approved spoiler? Did the team create their own to look like a NASCAR approved spoiler? Also, how was the spoiler not caught during pre-race inspection or at-track inspection?
These were questions fans and the media rightfully asked and NASCAR responded with a teleconference featuring senior vice president of competition Scott Miller.
One of the most notable lines came as Miller explained why NASCAR is likely going to increase the penalties for infractions next season.
“We’re looking at the whole deterrence model and trying to review that over the winter and possibly put more teeth in it, because yeah,” Miller said. “I think we’re getting into borderline ridiculous territory.”
And that could mean disqualifications.
An example of such ridiculousness is that NASCAR will now have to unbolt every spoiler off the car during pre-race inspection for the remaining races, adding another couple of minutes to the process.
“It’s unfortunate now we’ll be pulling spoilers off and have to do another inspection,” Miller said. “The teams should really be bringing legal cars to the racetrack and we shouldn’t have to do that inspection all the time.”
Here are the important questions and answers divulged during the session with reporters.
What exactly was the issue with the No. 4 team’s spoiler?
“It didn’t meet the CAD file and it was offset to the right. It’s really … there’s no gray area or anything like that. It’s as simple as that. It did not meet the CAD file. It was offset to the right.”
How far to the right?
“Getting into this level of detail about what the team has done is something that we really haven’t done, but let’s say between 200 and 300 thousandths. That’s a pretty narrow window.”
Did Stewart-Haas Racing manufacturer their own spoiler?
“Whether they made their own or they modified the stock piece is kind of irrelevant in this case because it didn’t match-up to the CAD file. We believe this to be a manufactured part, but that’s a separate manufactured part by them. But like I said, if they would have modified a standard one, the penalty is the same. It has to be a spec part and it wasn’t. Whether it was modified or remade is kind of inconsequential in this case.”
The maximum points penalty for the L1 infraction is 40 — did NASCAR consider increasing the penalty for this instance since Harvick scored 60 at Texas?
“We’re actually looking at a lot of different things in the off-season in regards to the deterrence model. We’ve heard fans call for disqualifying the offending car, and that’s actually a topic of discussion along with many other things related to the deterrence model (like) stiffer penalties at track and for failing inspection.”
Will NASCAR make any changes to inspection of spoiler this week?
“It’s a shame that we have to, but yeah, we plan on doing that.”
Why didn’t NASCAR notice this during at-track post-race inspection?
“It did get noticed at-track post-race inspection, but since that car was coming back to the R&D Center … It didn’t get noticed in that we knew exactly what it was, but there was something that one of the inspectors saw that kind of made them a little bit suspicious, and that’s why we took it off when the car got back to the R&D Center.”