Kevin Harvick was penalized after winning the race at Texas Motor Speedway; Cole Pearn and Darrian Grubb comment on the NASCAR penalty
Kevin Harvick dominated the race at Texas Motor Speedway. He swept both stages and went on to score the race win. With the win late in the NASCAR Playoffs, Harvick was due to be one of four cars battling for a championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Until the winning car failed the NASCAR R&D Center inspection. The win is useless in terms of a championship bid and a 40 points have been removed as well. Now, the win will not count to help him advance to Homestead. Harvick will enter ISM Raceway, 4th in playoff standings.
In addition, Harvick has lost both his car chief and his crew chief for the next two races. It’s a huge penalty.
Fans have taken to blaming NASCAR for this penalty. But, I fail to see what NASCAR did wrong here.
There’s a rule in the rule book. Specifically, rule 20.4.12.a & b. The team pushed the limits and they failed. NASCAR did nothing but enforce the written rules.
It’s NASCAR’s job to keep a level playing field and not allow cheating within the race cars. With the penalty, they enforced that stance.
Why didn’t they catch this in pre-race inspection?
I’ve seen that too many times in the last 24 hours. It simple, because the teams are smarter than the quick pre-race inspection. These genius engineers have taken to building modern race car transformers. They are specifically designed to move.
Beyond that, asking NASCAR to tech 40 race cars built by 100 million dollar race teams, from top to bottom in a matter of a few hours is simply an impossibility. Pre-race and post-race tech is to check the basics. It’s as detailed as they can make it given the limit time frame.
But, it’s not designed to tech an entire race car. That’s exactly why NASCAR hauls cars from the race track to the R&D Center. That’s where they tear cars down to the frame and make sure they’re in compliance.
“There’s a couple hundred thousand dollars in technology, cars fabrication and a couple months worth of work sitting there. It’s kinda hard for anybody to say they’re going to do a full inspection an hour before qualifying and say they got every little nook and cranny,” Darian Grubb, crew chief for William Byron explained via SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
“Everybody does their best and tries to manage the rules that are there. You do have to push those limits on every aspect. Like the wheel offsets being ninety-seven thousandths. That’s the stuff.”
“But, NASCAR does a very good job of making those lines. If it’s red, it’s red. And you’re not going to go out on track with that.”
“It’s all about the dynamics of the cars. There’s nothing on these race cars that doesn’t move at some point during the race. With all the forces and stuff we’re putting on it.”
“There’s always going to be damage, there’s always going to be contact. If you take anything and put it out there at 200mph, things are going to move.”
“NASCAR does a good job about trying to keep the playing field even. Obviously, this time, they found a few things that they didn’t think were.”
The rear spoiler penalty
The rear spoiler is crucial to race car aerodynamics. You could argue it as being the most important single piece on the race car. If a spoiler is designed to move then it could work in your benefit in the corners then flatten out and reduce drag down the straight-aways.
Is they passed post-race inspection, I’d be leaning toward a movable device. If they car passed post-race inspection, that means it snapped back to a legal position before NASCAR ran it through the OSS at the track.
That might not have been what the team was doing, at all. It could be something different entirely. At this point, everyone only has guesses to go on. But, if it passed at the track but failed at the R&D Center, it probably means something was designed to move.
The rear spoiler is so crucial that, in 2017, Chase Elliott’s team was willing to risk an encumbered penalty over a piece of tape. They lined the rear spoiler with a thin piece of tape. The goal was just to make it a tiny bit taller, exactly the width of the piece of tape, taller.
The team of Elliott was caught on pit road after the race. The crew removed it in the background during a post-race interview.
All this year, Kevin Harvick has been the car to beat. He currently has more wins than any driver in the field.
Is this something that could take all their superpowers away?
“It very well could. That’s the most affective part of the car between the splitter and the spoiler. The two largest aerodynamic pieces we have,” Darian Grubb explained.
“I’m not sure exactly what it was or what the affect was. But, it definitely could be something that could change somebody’s day,” Grubb concluded.
What was wrong with Kevin Harvick’s rear spoiler?
As mentioned, we still haven’t been told exactly what the team did to the rear spoiler. In previous cases of a post-race infraction details have surfaced.
In this case, it appears to be tight lipped on the actual infraction. Perhaps that’s just to keep any other teams from getting new ideas. But, it’s left the industry to speculate, just like any other NASCAR fan out there.
“I’m sure it was something to make it higher or something. That’s typically all you can really do back there to make gains,” #78 crew chief Cole Pearn stated.
“As far as what in particular happened, I have no idea. It’s a tough thing. It could be something so small that it probably doesn’t make much of a difference. And probably still would have won the race anyways.”
“That’s a tough line. But, ounces make pounds and that’s the mentality you got to take. I’m sure that’s what happened in their case.”