Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

NASCAR's culture of cheating unmasked during playoffs

NASCAR's culture of cheating unmasked during playoffs

Kevin Harvick is "no longer locked into vying for the NASCAR Cup Series championship as his race-winning auto from Texas was found to have an illegal spoiler during technical inspection", ESPN reported.

After Harvick made the trip to Victory Lane, his auto was sent to the research and development center where illegal modifications to the rear spoiler were found. In addition to losing his spot in next weekend's finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Harvick must also close out the final two races of the season without crew chief Rodney Childers and vehicle chief Robert Smith.

Additionally, Harvick was docked 40 points, crew chief Rodney Childers and auto chief Robert Smith were suspended for the last two races of the season, and Childers was fined $75,000.

With the stakes so high this weekend at Phoenix, where seven drivers will by vying for three open spots in the championship race, NASCAR will check spoilers at the track.

The last big scandal in NASCAR was in 2013, when Michael Waltrip Racing manipulated the finish of a race at Richmond to try to get Martin Truex Jr. into the playoffs.

The series heads to ISM Raceway in Phoenix this weekend for the final elimination race before the championship. One of his victories came in the spring, part of a three-race winning streak marred by an illegal auto at Las Vegas one week earlier.

"It is not our desire to issue any penalties, but we'll do so when necessary to ensure each race and championship is contested on a level playing field", Miller said earlier Wednesday.

"We need to change the culture to where we don't have to play this cat and mouse game with the teams", Miller said. The penalties announced by NASCAR stretched across the Camping World Truck and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and impacted numerous teams.

- NASCAR will perform an engine teardown and enhanced post-race inspection immediately after the Homestead race (as it has done in the past) rather than wait until midweek to scrutinize the championship auto for any amusing business.

Miller vowed intense scrutiny on the four championship-contending cars at Homestead, and said the post-race procedure is similar to the Daytona 500, where engines are examined at the track after the race. "So we'll just ramp up the intensity of keeping people with eyes on those cars throughout the weekend and scrutinize those cars heavily, both before and after the race". "We will now return our focus to Phoenix, and the battle for a championship". Nick DeFazio will be the interim auto chief. The #12 Team Penske team of Ryan Blaney and the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing club of Erik Jones suffered 20-point penalties and crew chief suspensions for their infractions. Crew chief Chris Gayle has been fined $50,000.

It took until Wednesday for the penalties to be announced because the cars were in transit Monday from Texas to North Carolina.

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