Kevin Harvick stripped of berth in NASCAR championship race

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After Harvick made the trip to Victory Lane, his auto was sent to the research and development center where illegal modifications to the rear spoiler were found. The team has also been docked 20 driver and 20 owner points.

Harvick, despite earning his eighth win of the season, sits in fourth place - three points ahead of Kurt Busch and 17 points ahead of Chase Elliott. As part of the penalty, Harvick can not use the win at TMS in a tiebreaker. This prompted NASCAR to levy penalties which include a 40-point deduction and suspension for crew chief Rodney Childers for the remainder of the season, in addition to the aforementioned loss of guaranteed spot in the Championship 4. Childers was also fined $75,000.

The team has the right to appeal this penalty, but indicated that they will forgo that option. Tony Gibson will be Harvick's interim crew chief and Nick DeFazio will be interim auto chief.

"We work tirelessly across every inch of our race cars to create speed and, unfortunately, NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book", Zipadelli said. "Instead, we will direct our immediate focus to this weekend's event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the race track". Now, three spots will be up for grabs in Phoenix. He pulled it off and is a nine-time victor at Phoenix, including earlier this year.

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Per the NASCAR penalty report, the team violated section 20.4.12.a&b, which relates to spoilers. Harvick's vehicle passed the post-race inspection at TMS. Harvick has seven wins in his last 12 starts at Phoenix and nine wins in 31 starts overall.

Joey Logano of Team Penske - who won the previous weekend's Round of 8 race at Martinsville Speedway - is the only driver locked in to Championship Round. Both drivers were already eliminated from the playoffs in earlier rounds.

Blaney crew chief Jeremy Bullins was fined $50,000, and auto chief Kirk Almquist was suspended for the next two races.

It took until Wednesday for the penalties to be announced because the cars were in transit Monday from Texas to North Carolina. That leaves Harvick to fight for his playoff life at Phoenix this weekend with backup crew chief Tony Gibson.

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