NASCAR announced Wednesday that they have issued an L2-level penalty to the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team for the unapproved modification of a single-source part. The infraction, which falls under Sections 14.1 (vehicle assembly) and 14.5 (body) of the NASCAR rulebook, was discovered after the No. 4 Ford driven by Kevin Harvick was taken back to NASCAR's Research & Development Center following last weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Kevin Harvick and his race team have been docked 100 driver and owner points, while crew chief Rodney Childers has been suspended for the next four races and fined $100,000. Childers, who had just celebrated his 600th Cup Series race last weekend at Talladega, will be eligible to return for the season finale at Phoenix next month.
Harvick's team is the third to be penalized this season for illegally modifying a Next Gen car part, an infraction which has incurred severe penalties: Brad Keselowski's RFK Racing team was the first to be penalized for modifying a single-source part following Atlanta in March, and Michael McDowell's Front Row Motorsports team was next after Pocono in July.
The penalty to Harvick's team comes weeks after Harvick had publicly ripped the Next Gen car after a fire at Darlington, issuing an invective against the quality of the car's "crappy ass parts". Twitter posts by both Harvick and Childers on Wednesday seemed to imply a link between the team's recent squabble with NASCAR competition officials and the penalty they have now received.
In addition to the penalties to Harvick's team, NASCAR also handed out a behavioral penalty to NASCAR Camping World Truck Series crew chief Andrew Abbott. Abbott, crew chief for Young's Motorsports' No. 20 team, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sport's member code of conduct. The completion of NASCAR-mandated anger management training is a prerequisite to Abbott's reinstatement.