NASCAR: We blew a penalty call on Kevin Harvick

To err is human, and in NASCAR’s case Kevin Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team are glad.

NASCAR admitted Sunday evening that Harvick should have been penalized for an uncontrolled tire on a pit stop during the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.  NASCAR rules say crewmembers must keep a tire under their control during a pit stop or have it within arm’s length.  At no time is it allowed to leave the pit box.

Ryan Blaney’s team was called for an uncontrolled tire violation on Lap 43 Sunday when a tire left their pit box during a stop.

Harvick suffered several issues during his stops Sunday. He lost the lead for the first time on pit road during a round of stops on lap 127 when a lug nut was caught up in the jack and slowed the stop; he restarted 9th. He was then forced to re-pit after a round of stops with a loose wheel on lap 137; he lost a lap and came back out 22nd. He later reported another loose wheel but was able to pit under caution.

Then on lap 235 one of Harvick’s crewmembers fell over the wall while trying to stop an errant tire during another stop; Harvick was penalized for too many crewmembers over the wall and sent to the end of the longest line. He fought his way back and thanks to timely pit stops was able to get inside the top five.

But during a round of green flag stops on lap 291, the right front that had just been removed. The tire changer let go of it and it rolled out of the pit box. The changer ran a few steps grabbed the tire and completed the stop.

NASCAR reviewed it and did not call a penalty.  Harvick finished second.

After the race, NASCAR said they missed the call.

“It was a judgement call, and after conducting a postrace review of the incident an uncontrolled tire penalty for the 4 car would have been correct,” NASCAR senior vice president of competition Scott Miller said. “We missed that call.”

Harvick nor the team had any comment Sunday night, but winning crew chief for Kyle Busch Adam Stevens was asked about it. He said hadn’t seen a replay of the incident involving Harvick’s team.

“I was really focused on what we were trying to do,” Stevens said. “But that’s something that when the situation like that happens, we will evaluate that, try to get clarification so that we know what the rules are going forward.”

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