NASCAR penalizes Kevin Harvick for illegal Las Vegas race-winning car

Kevin Harvick has dropped from first to third in the NASCAR Cup standings after both he and his team were docked 20 points for failing a post-race inspection after their dominant victory in Las Vegas last weekend.

During the race, viewers and a couple of other drivers noticed that the plastic rear window on Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was flexing at high speeds, leading some to speculate that the team was bending the rules to find a performance advantage.

His crew chief, Rodney Childers, later explained on the Sirius/XM NASCAR channel that a required rigid support brace for the window had broken, and that “it’s not something that we wanted to happen.”

“I would suggest that it probably didn’t help. The car was plenty fast before that,” Childers said.

Nevertheless, the failure meant the car was in violation of NASCAR’s regulations. The inspection also discovered that the #4 Ford Fusion had a steel right side rocker panel extension instead of an aluminum one, which is required by a recent rule change.

The Las Vegas win stands, but Harvick lost the seven playoff points that went with it, while Childers was fined $50,000 and car chief Robert Smith was suspended for two races.

Kevin Harvick passes the start/finish line during a NASCAR Cup series auto race Sunday, March 4, 2018, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Along with the rear window issue, Harvick's car also had an illegal right side rocker panel extention.  (AP)

Stewart-Haas issued a statement on the matter that said “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.”