Harvick was the most-fined NASCAR team in 2018; He’s happy to see the new inspection process and automatic disqualifications
As the cars head to Daytona, a new set of procedures have been announced. NASCAR will be inspecting the race cars at the race track in 2019.
For the first time, NASCAR inspected the championship winning cars at the race track. Now, they will be doing that same thing at every race in the upcoming season.
An allocated amount of time will be used in post-race inspection.
In the event of a failed post-race inspection, it will bring an automatic disqualification. That’s something that wasn’t in place last year. It means that the trophy, the money and the win itself will be taken away.
Previously, the race winner, 2nd, 3rd and one random car were hauled back to the NASCAR R&D Center for a thorough inspection. NASCAR would take apart the race cars, piece by piece.
That meant that by Tuesday or Wednesday, we’d know if the winning car actually won the race. Harvick was one of those drivers that had the benefits of a race win taken away in 2019.
Last year, when a race winner failed post race inspection he kept the race winnings, the trophy and the stats. The only thing he lost was the ability to use the win to advance into the championship and/or a deduction of points.
Now, everything is far more serious and quicker to the same point.
Kevin Harvick on the new NASCAR inspection process
“There’s more to it than just the post race. With the pre-race inspection, having those dedicated officials to take care of things in the garage and communicate with the teams,” Harvick stated via ‘Happy Hours’ on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“It can’t be a cat and mouse game where NASCAR’s like, ‘Alright, this week we’re going to check the splitters and they need be exactly straight.’ “
“The teams are like, ‘Aw, do you think it really has to be straight? Well, let’s just kinda straighten it up.’ “
Last year, NASCAR brought out a straight edge to begin checking that the underside of the front splitter was perfectly straight. It caught half the garage area off guard. Truex Jr stated multiple times that it took a lot of performance away from his car.
“I want to see the communication between the officials and the crew chiefs. To really alleviate race chaos that we’ve had for so many years,” Harvick continued.
Harvick recalls NASCAR penalties
Kevin Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing are experienced veterans in the NASCAR penalty department. In total, the #4 team was fined $145,000 following four separate L1 violations in 2018 alone.
“We’ve been in some of those situations. And it’s not a good situation for anybody. It’s not good for the sport or the team.”
“With our deal at Texas, the penalty was exactly what the penalty is today. With the points and everything. It put us in a really bad position.”
At Texas Motor Speedway, Harvick violated the rear spoiler rules. With the win he was set to advance into the Championship 4. That was revoked and he had to re-qualify for the final race of the season. In addition, has was handed a large fine and a dock of 40 points.
Related: Texas Motor Speedway: Penalty Report
NASCAR team pushing the boundaries of the rule book
It’s literally their job to do so. If they aren’t pushing right against the line in every page of the rule book then that’s a car that isn’t competitive. The teams who are pushing the limits are going to beat you. But, when you flirt with that line, you’re going to trip over it from time to time.
“Teams chase trends. When you see those types of things happening in the garage… It’s not a coincidence that you show up the next week and there’s 20 some cars that put spoilers on in the garage.”
“After every practice, teams are looking at pictures and videos. And listening to everything that everybody says on the radio to make sure there’s not something we’re missing.”
Teams have a photographer at various points of the track. They take hi-resolution photos at a high shutter speed. The idea is to capture all the cars at the exact same point on the race track.
A book of photos from each car is then sent to the team for analysis. They can compare the ride heights and general attitude of their car to every other car on the grid at the exact same position on the track.
“Those guys at the shop are constantly working. Tweaking this and tweaking that to see what you can get through inspection.”
NASCAR is ruling with an iron fist in 2019
Last year, NASCAR debuted a new optical scanning station. It scans millions of data points on the car to make sure it complies with the rule book.
That scanning station is essentially what makes thorough at track inspections possible. There’s also no arguing with a machine.
“With my kids, it’s a much better situation to draw a line in the sand and stick by that line. And say, ‘This is how we’re going to do it and this is what we’re going to do.’ “
“Otherwise, they just keep pushing the limits. And I view us as kids. We all push the limits and you’re still going to have to get right up on that limit and push things if you’re going to be the best.”
“You’re still going to push things exactly the same. Because I feel like you push things that you feel you can get away with.”
“It’s no different than it has been in the past. It’s going to be the exact same situation.”
“We’re all going to try things and they’re not going to like things. Then, you just take them off the car and they confiscate them or whatever they do and you move forward.”
“It’s either right or wrong and there shouldn’t be any gray area. Having those officials in the garage scrutinizing everybody’s car instead of one here or there that constantly go to the R&D Center. That’s more fair for the whole field.”
“I like it. I like to rule with an iron fist.”
Kevin Harvick on Jay Fabian
The grey area is constantly pushed against in the garage area. NASCAR is placing a team of officials into the garage area. They can inspect the car at any point.
Jay Fabian will lead that team. He will also be a direct line of communication between the NASCAR teams and the rule book.
“We need to be celebrating the winner. Not talking about penalties. I like Jay Fabian being in the garage. I don’t think Richard Buck had a lot of experience with NASCAR.”
“He didn’t know a lot about the race cars. He was good at doing that paperwork and stuff. But, he never had the relationship in the garage that I think Jay will already have just because he’s gotta be in the garage and communicating.”
Who’s at fault?
“We’re all at fault for where we are. We have to do the things that it takes to not make the penalties be the story.”
“The fact that this is the biggest story shows that it needs to be addressed and be different going forward.”
“It’s not the teams fault, it’s not NASCAR’s fault, it’s everybody’s fault. It’s time to change the culture and the way people go about things.”
Now, there will be a different set of inspection officials for each series. They will become experts on their specific division. Instead of the same groups of officials inspection all three divisions throughout the weekend.
“There’s little things that are so different between the three national series. That’s a tough job. Those officials were overworked and going to too many different inspection processes and worrying about too many things.”