NASCAR announced Wednesday that Kevin Harvick had been penalized 100 points and his crew chief Rodney Childers would be suspended for four of the five remaining races of the season because of illegal car modifications at Talladega.
Harvick’s car was one of the two cars from Sunday’s race taken back to NASCAR’s R&D center for further inspection. NASCAR, as usual, did not provide specifics regarding Harvick’s penalty and the penalty report only referred to the infraction as violating parts of section 14.1 and 14.5 of the rule book.
Those parts of the rule book relate to the modification of single-source parts on the cars including an entry that says “except in cases explicitly permitted in the NASCAR rules, installation of additional parts and/or modifications of existing parts to affect the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle will not be permitted.”
Harvick was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round and this penalty will go a long way to ensuring that he finishes 16th among the 16 playoff drivers. Harvick was in 16th and 18 points out of 15th before the penalty. Now he’ll be 118 points back of Kyle Busch in 15th if the team does not successfully appeal the penalty.
Childers was also fined $100,000 for the violation.
Harvick made a cryptic tweet in the minutes before the violation was announced. The veteran driver has gotten back on the social media platform in recent weeks and has used his voice to chime in on myriad NASCAR topics including the Cup Series schedule and the safety of NASCAR’s new cars.
Childers also feigned surprise at the penalty.
Penalties for modifications to the 2022 Cup Series car are significant because of the numerous single-source parts used. Teams are essentially building kit cars from the same parts and pieces instead of building cars from parts they built in-house. Brad Keselowski became the first driver to get penalized for illegal parts modifications early in the season and was also docked 100 points for the way his team illegally modified parts on his damaged car at Atlanta.
A 100-point penalty is 40 more than the maximum amount of points a driver can earn in a single race. Harvick scored two wins over the summer to make the 16-driver playoffs but was quickly eliminated after finishes of 33rd and 36th in the first two races of the postseason. Harvick finished 33rd in the playoff opener because his car randomly caught fire as he was racing on track. He was forced to pull over to the inside of the track and park his car as the fire came through his dashboard and after the race blamed NASCAR’s “crappy-ass parts” for the problem.
Wednesday afternoon, NASCAR president Steve Phelps told the Associated Press it was "ridiculous" to assume that Harvick's car had been taken back to the R&D center and inspected and penalized for his recent criticism of NASCAR.