NASCAR doesn’t enjoy disqualifying a competitor. Brad Moran, Managing Director of the NASCAR Cup Series made that admission Saturday morning at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The week prior officials had to disqualify Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford after a second-place finish at Talladega.
Saturday morning Moran met with the media and showed pictures of the infractions they found that caused Harvick to fail post-race inspection and get disqualified. Moran said they hated to have the news take away from the race, won by Ryan Blaney over Harvick by inches.
“We had a great race at Talladega” he said. “Over 70 lead changes and we wouldn’t like that to be the top story unfortunately…When it comes to postrace inspections, we do have a process. We check these vehicles and everybody must comply to the rules. Unfortunately, with the 4 car we had loose fasteners and missing fasteners on the windshield.”
Moran said that the rule is pretty clear: Windshield fasteners have to stay secure for the entire event. He showed reporters a picture of the windshield showing three fasteners missing. That caused the seal around the windshield to blow out.
So, seven of the eight fasteners along the top were loose or missing,” Moran said showing the picture. “There’s eight in total. And then here’s a closeup shot of the, the three that are missing. There’s three missing there. The seal has come out, you can see the seal coming out there.
“It was quite an obvious problem that we had when the car got into inspection for something like this.”
Moran said they were certain the windshield fasteners were secure when the race started.
“We’re always checking when the cars go through prerace,” he said. “Pushing on glass, side glass windshield rear glass, especially at super speedways because obviously it’s critical if the cars leak air for different reasons.
“I don’t want to get in the air outside of it, but we all know that, that we try to control cars leaking air. So they’re done by hand. In this case, you could clearly see that they were missing, they were off, the seal was out, the windshield was not secure. And obviously the fasteners were not even tight.”
Moran had a small piece of windshield frame and demonstrated how the fasteners work.
“I can’t say how they come loose, where they come loose or even when it’s just per our rule, they need to be tight,” he said. “The windshields need to be tight for obvious reasons. Aero and safety. And they were not, which led us to the unfortunate decision that we had to do, we had to do.”
And while there was an obvious safety issue, if the lack of the fasteners gave some sort of competitive advantage isn’t as clear.
“You can talk to different aero people, they’ll give you different reasons,” Moran said. “You know there’s trips, there’s changing the air flow, there’s letting pressure out the car. There’s multiple reasons and every engineer will give you their own story. But we want the windshields, we want all the glass tight and installed the way it’s supposed to be.”
NASCAR thinks it was an assembly problem with the windshield.
“There was nothing more than that,” Moran said. “If we found something beyond that, that concerned us, the car would’ve went back, which we brought back with us, and if we found anything that would’ve led to a bigger penalty, that would’ve been an option for us
He again showed the pieces from a windshield.
“These are lock nuts,” Moran said. “Best quality, they’re aircraft material. And if that would vibrate loose, you’d be able to turn that somewhat with your hand. You cannot budge it. And they’re designed that way. They’re aircraft quality and that’s not the case.”
Harvick will retire from fulltime Cup series competition at the end of this season. Later Saturday he was asked his feelings on losing a runner-up finish in his final superspeedway race.
“Obviously, you don’t want to be in the middle of those situations, but I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other,” Harvick said. “I can see it both ways.
“I did my job. I don’t know any other way to say that. I did my job and the rest of it is open for debate as to who did what and the rule is good or bad, I don’t know. I don’t know all the scenarios from either side, so I hear it from both sides and can see it from both sides in some way, shape or form, but I didn’t dig deep into whether it was just or unjust. I just went home and heard the news like everybody else and I went on with my week.”
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