Kevin Harvick just can't understand why NASCAR keeps hitting Stewart-Haas Racing with massive penalty after massive penalty.
Last week, Harvick and SHR were docked 100 points each, while crew chief Rodney Childers was fined $100,000 and suspended for four races after NASCAR officials found that Harvick's team had allegedly performed illegal modifications on his No. 4 Ford Mustang ahead of the Talladega playoff race. Harvick thought that the timing of the doled-out infractions seemed "strange" given that it came after his criticisms of NASCAR's Next Gen car.
Now, Harvick is "so confused" following NASCAR's Tuesday decision to lay the hammer down on SHR once again, this time on Cole Custer and his team following their actions at the Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte. Custer's offense? Purposely holding up several drivers, which allowed teammate Chase Briscoe to finish ninth, bump Kyle Larson from the playoffs, and move on to the Round of 8.
According to officials, Custer violated Section 5.5 of the NASCAR Rule Book, which requires drivers to race at 100% and prohibits any attempts to "artificially alter" the results of the race. NASCAR fined Custer $100,000 and docked him 50 driver points, while also docking 50 driver points from SHR. Crew chief Mike Shiplett was also fined $100,000 and suspended indefinitely.
I?m so confused..
— Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) October 11, 2022
So, why is Kevin Harvick "so confused?" Well, this time, it probably doesn't have anything to do with his criticisms of the Next Gen car. Rather, he was likely referencing NASCAR's hypocrisy in their latest ruling, considering that Chase Elliott purposely held up Harvick at the 2021 Bristol Night Race and cost him the win. While NASCAR found that Elliott's move at Bristol did not come as a directive from his team and was more of a retaliation against Harvick, the stock car racing sanctioning body viewed that Custer's actions at the Charlotte Roval were done under the explicit instructions of his team.
Rodney Childers, Harvick's crew chief, has a problem with that logic and specifically referenced the Bristol incident in a tweet of his own.
Just like they did with the Harvick situation after Talladega, Stewart-Haas Racing will be appealing the Custer penalties. But, NASCAR leadership doesn't seem to be budging on its ruling. In an interview following the Custer announcement, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition defended the decision to penalize Custer and his team.
"When we got to the audio, and had the crew chief telling the driver that, 'I think you got a flat (tire). Check up, check up, check up,' when he could''t even see the car or have any idea whatsoever that the car might have a flat, obviously pretty telling as to what went on there," Miller said. "That coupled with the data and the video and all the rest of the things that we looked into, well, that was the bulk of the things ... nothing contradicted the fact that was done deliberately by those individuals, so we were certainly forced to react, and you saw their reaction today."
NASCAR instituted the performance obligation after the 2013 Richmond Cup race when officials determined that Clint Bowyer purposely spun out and Brian Vickers purposely pitted to help their teammate Martin Truex Jr. make the playoffs. Truex was hit with a points penalty that ultimately eliminated him from playoff contention.
While NASCAR discussed suspending Custer, they decided against it, as suspensions of that nature are typically reserved for dangerous moves that take out other competitors. NASCAR also decided not to penalize Briscoe, finding that he didn't actually need any help to advance further in the playoffs.
"We can't have teams manipulating the finishing order," Miller added. Certainly on super high alert for the playoffs, and had this been the determining factor in the 14 making it into the Round of 8 or not, our reaction certainly would have been bigger."
MORE: 5 Times Kevin Harvick Unleashed on Rival NASCAR Drivers in Post-Race Interviews
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