Stewart-Haas Racing, No.4 Ford receives stiff penalties after Las Vegas

(NBC Sports)

While it can no longer be called “encumbered”, Kevin Harvick’s Las Vegas win will not count towards the season ending NASCAR Playoffs.

NASCAR found violations with the winning car after a routine post-race teardown at the NASCAR R&D Center and Wednesday announced an L1 penalty.

NASCAR said the team was found to have violated Sections (dealing with rear window support) and 20.4.18 (rocker panel extensions), specifically. A brace that supports the rear window failed and did not meet specifications for keeping the rear window glass rigid in all directions, at all times. Additionally, the rocker panel extension was not aluminum.

After Harvick’s record breaking domination Sunday, he led 214 laps, more than any other driver has, fans on the internet noticed in photos that the rear window of the Ford was bowed.  In postrace pictures the rear window was no longer bowed.

Under the rules for an L1 penalty, the win will not be taken away but Harvick and the team will not get the benefits of that win for the NASCAR Playoffs (a total of seven playoff points for winning the race and both stages). Harvick also won at Atlanta, which means he still is qualified for the postseason on the basis of the Atlanta win.

In addition, crew chief Rodney Childers was fined $50,000 and car chief Robert Smith has been suspended for the next two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. The team also was docked 20 driver points and 20 owner points.

NASCAR officials felt with this infraction the best sanction for the violation was suspending the car chief, not crew chief, due to the prominent role the car chief plays in setting up the car throughout the weekend.

The No. 4 team has the right to appeal the penalties to the National Motorsports Appeals Panel.

Childers appeared on SiriusXM Radio on Tuesday morning and said the window bowing didn’t provide a competitive advantage.

“Basically, we had a rear window brace fail, and NASCAR mandates that we run a certain T-bar in the back glass, and that T-bar is actually pretty strong,” Childers said according to Autoweek. “Then also over the winter they wanted the rear package to raise the bottom of the rear glass to be really stiff and stay controlled — there were some guys that were having their rear package trays falling an inch at the end of the year last year.

“The bottom of the glass got strengthened up and the T-bar is stiff, and the center brace that holds that T-bar is what bent and failed and the T-bar ends up being stronger than the back of the roof at that point and then pulled the back of the roof down.

“To be honest, that stuff has been a struggle over many, many years. I can remember being at Michigan with Mark Martin in 2012. You’re just going so fast at those intermediate tracks and you’ve got so much air pushing down on that stuff. I remember Mark coming off the race track and we had a 2-inch gap from the bottom of the glass to the deck lid when we came in from practice and had to modify all that stuff.”

In other penalties, the No. 55 team in the Monster Energy Series received a safety violation for one lug nut that was not secure in post-race inspection. Crew chief Todd Parrott has been fined $10,000.