Should we expect a penalty for Kevin Harvick for the flexible rear window? Here’s a look at NASCAR’s rear window rules.
Today is judgement day for Kevin Harvick. Will he be handed a penalty? The rulebook says yes.
Kevin Harvick had a flexible roof and rear window at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He led the majority of the event and cruised to victory lane as the roof snapped back into shape, like magic.
Since, Rodney Childers the crew chief for the #4 Stewart-Haas Racing machine has said it was a part failed. He insisted that it was just a brace failure and that the window was actually riding on the T Bar.
The rear window would fold down as Harvick reached near 200 mph range. Basically, it would only fold for a split second just before corner entry.
Harvick’s crew chief insisted that the wind tunnel doesn’t ever get that much force in tests the team performs. Implying that he wouldn’t have known the window was going to do that at those speeds from wind tunnel data.
Here’s the NASCAR rulebook:
188.8.131.52.b: “Installed rear window braces and supports must keep the rear window glass rigid in all directions, at all times and all NASCAR templates must fit correctly.”
Is a penalty coming?
The crew chief claims his race winning car suffered a part failure. I’ve been told Rodney Childers is a stand up guy. So, I don’t have any reason to doubt him. However, it’s highly likely that none of that matters.
Upon reading the rule above, I still expect a penalty to be issued later today. Specifically, “must keep the rear window glass rigid in all directions.”
NASCAR isn’t known for saying, ‘it’s ok because you didn’t mean to do it.’ The rule will still be enforced regardless of how or why it was broken.
10 years ago, Carl Edwards suffered a similar issue. Ironically, that was also at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his case, the oil cap came off and disappeared on the race track. A penalty was issued days later. On March 5th, 2008, NASCAR determined that the car received an “aerodynamic advantage” from the missing oil cap.
Clearly, the team didn’t purposely remove the oil cap and I doubt something under the car was really much of an aerodynamic advantage. However, NASCAR still handed them a penalty anyway because they didn’t want teams to begin accidentally-on-purpose leaving their oil caps in the garage area.
100 points were erased from the championship standings plus Edwards also lost the 10 bonus points for winning the race. In addition, his crew chief was suspended for 6 weeks.
That was 10 years ago and a lot has changed in the world of NASCAR. In this specific area, the entire penalty structure has been adjusted with a level based penalty system. In addition, NASCAR is teching cars harder than ever in search of the ‘level playing field.’
First the LIS was introduced. That wasn’t strict or consistent enough. This year, NASCAR has gone optical and introduced an OSS machine which scans the entire car, opposed to the old template system.
Kevin Harvick passed pre-race inspection. He then went to victory lane which was followed by a post-race inspection. He passed that as well.
However, on Monday the car traveled all the way across the country to the NASCAR R&D Center in North Carolina. That’s where officials go through a handful of selected cars with scientific precision. It’s detailed to the point where the cars are actually stripped to the chassis.
Will they be penalized? “I wouldn’t think so,” Rodney Childers told Sirius XM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday.
One thing is for certain, it won’t be encumbered. That term was dropped from the NASCAR rulebook over the winter. However, the newly-unnamed penalty still exists in it’s exact same fashion.
A penalty report is generally released on Tuesday. However, with the extra day in travel time for west coast races, the penalty report for Las Vegas will instead be released later today.
All facts tell me that Harvick’s most recent win will be ‘encumbered’. I guess we’ll find out later today what the new name of the penalty is.