NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick was penalized Wednesday due to alleged modifications found on his Ford at Talladega Superspeedway.
Stewart-Haas Racing and Harvick were docked 100 points respectively. Meanwhile, crew chief Rodney Childers was suspended for the next four races and will have to pay a $100,000 fine.
The penalties were for “modification of a single source supplied part,” NASCAR said.
Mere minutes before the penalty came down, Harvick sent a Tweet saying, “Seems strange…”
Harvick is known for being outspoken and went on a tangent last week about the safety of the Next Gen car. The No. 4 Ford was selected to be taken from Talladega to its North Carolina R&D Center for a deeper inspection.
NASCAR maintains that the selection of cars for postrace inspection at the R&D Center is done randomly.
But competitors remain suspicious.
“Shocking,” Childers sarcastically replied to NASCAR’s tweet announcing the penalty.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps defended the penalty to the No. 4 team.
“I would say that’s ridiculous. No one has a vendetta against Kevin Harvick or Rodney, at all, or anyone at Stewart-Haas Racing,” Phelps said. “Our guys are very good. They are going to look at (an infraction). Look at it again. Look at it a third time to make sure there’s a penalty and the penalty is right. If the four team thinks that’s not right, they will file an appeal.”
Four races in a row have car issues involving Next Gen.
Harvick’s caught fire in the playoff opener. Other cars experience parts and tire failures.
However, the primary issue was the stiffness in the rear of the car, which has contributed to concussions for both Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch.
Bowman will miss his second straight race due to a concussion. Bowman missed last week’s race at Talladega and will miss the Charlotte Roval. Noah Gragson filled in for Bowman last weekend and will do it again.
Cody Shane Ware also will sit out Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway because of a broken foot he suffered in a crash two races ago. This marks the first time in at least 20 years thar three drivers will miss a race because of injuries.
Per the terms of his suspension, Childers is only allowed to work on during the season finale. Harvick, on the other hand, was eliminated in the first round in the playoffs — which is mostly attributed of problems with his Next Gen car.
Phelps and NASCAR senior leadership are scheduled to meet with the drivers Saturday before practice at Charlotte.
“We need to do everything we can to make our drivers feel safe in the vehicles,” Phelps said. “We certainly care about their safety. We’re working on things … to make sure we have a plan moving forward so that gaining trust can be better. Our goal is obviously to be the safest motorsport on the planet.”
NASCAR was scheduled to crash-test computer models of changes this week. The hope is to help redistribute the energy away from the driver during a crash.
But with just five races left on the season, any fixes won’t happen until next year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.