NASCAR hits Kevin Harvick's team with stiff penalties over rear window infraction

Kevin Harvick might want to check his rear view next time. NASCAR came down hard on Harvick and his team on Wednesday for rear window brace violations on his winning car from last weekend's Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Crew chief Rodney Childers was fined $50,000, while car chief Robert Smith was suspended for two Cup races. Harvick was penalized 20 driver points, the team was penalized 20 owner points, and Harvick got docked seven playoff points for his win -- including the five for the win and two for stage wins.

The infraction itself is related to the material of Harvick's braces, in addition to the rigidity of Harvick's window. NASCAR stipulates that that rear window glass must be rigid in all directions at all times, which Harvick's wasn't, and the right side of Harvick's panel extension was not made of aluminum, a NASCAR requirement.

The rule reads: "Installed rear window braces and supports must keep the rear window glass rigid in all directions, at all times and all NASCAR templates must fit correctly."

The team can appeal the penalty within three days, but wants to cover all of its bases first.

"Late today, NASCAR made us aware of a penalty they're imposing on our No. 4 Cup Series team," said Stewart-Haas racing vice president of competition Greg Zipadelli, via NBC Sports. "We're going to take the time and evaluate our options, and we plan to continue dialogue with NASCAR to fully understand the rationale behind the penalty."  

An eagle-eyed Chase Elliott discussed the window with his crew chief Alan Gustafson in-race, which brought attention to the window. Elliott himself, however, downplayed the effect of the window.

On NASCAR Radio on SiriusXM, Childers said that the incident was unintentional and wouldn't happen again.

"We're going to learn from this,'' he said on Tuesday, before the punishment came down, via Auto Week. "It's not something that we wanted to happen. You definitely don't want the back of the roof sharp. You want the back of the roof round and you want that to be a smooth transition. I think that everybody thinks that it helps. I would suggest that it probably didn't help.''

It apparently didn't hurt either. It was Harvick's second consecutive win in an impressive stretch, and he looked utterly dominant. The violation dropped Harvick from 13 points to six, and he fell out of the points lead. However, if Harvick keeps racing the way he has been, he can make that ground up quickly. While the penalty is significant, and could impact him come playoffs, he is still qualified for the playoffs with his win. 

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