CONCORD, N.C. — Kevin Harvick will start at the rear of the field for the Coca-Cola 600 after his car failed to pass inspection Thursday and did not make a qualifying attempt.
Harvick’s team also will miss 30 minutes of final practice Saturday and be without car chief Robert Smith the rest of the weekend.
Harvick’s car failed inspection three times.
MORE: Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup
“I think it’s something that has been building throughout the year and at some point you had to get back control of it,’’ crew chief Rodney Childers said. “Basically, the template side of it wasn’t getting used and straight edges weren’t getting used and we were purely going off the (Optical Scanning Station). That was fine until it somewhat starts to get out of hand. They changed some things around last week and some personnel around and some positions around and started checking things differently.
“The whole garage had trouble last week, but we all got through it. I’ll be honest with you, we worked on this thing for 12 hours Monday (at the shop) trying to get all of it how they wanted it. We felt good about it when we unloaded it. We went through it and … everything was good.
“We went back through for qualifying and it was red. We sanded on it and it was more red, and we sanded on it again and it was more red. That part I don’t understand. That part is disappointing. It’s not their fault.
“Everybody is going to push things as much as they can, and I think everybody knows that the 4 team is out to push things as much as they can and win races. It’s disappointing to start in the back. It’s disappointing not to have (Smith) here. We’ll get through it as a race team. We’ll have a good car on Sunday.’’
About losing 30 minutes of practice time Saturday, Childers said: “You either got a good car or you don’t. I’m guessing it will be pretty good. We’ll just have to serve our penalty and move on.’’
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The Coca-Cola 600 is back under way following a rain delay.
The caution was issued on Lap 49 for rain and the field was brought to pit road. The red flag was issued at 7:07 p.m. ET and lifted at 8:16 p.m. ET.
The top five at the time of the stoppage was Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Tyler Reddick and Joey Logano.
Check back for updates.
Denny Hamlin was involved in an incident even before Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 got underway that could result in a hefty penalty.
A chunk of tungsten ballast — which teams use to bring Cup cars up to minimum weight standards — fell off Hamlin’s car on a parade lap.
The incident puts Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabehart and several others on the team in violation of the NASCAR rule book, which means a hefty penalty could be in the offing.
According to the NASCAR rule book, the penalty is 22.214.171.124.4.d: Minimum safety penalty options — “Loss or separation of added ballast from the vehicle will result in a four Race suspension of the crew chief, car chief, and head engineer. If NASCAR cannot identify which series or vehicle the lost ballast originated from, all vehicles entered for that Event from and associated with the team organization identified on the lost ballast may receive the suspensions.”
If NASCAR implements the potential penalty, Gabehart and others could miss the following four races: May 27 at Charlotte, May 31 at Bristol, June 7 at Atlanta and June 10 at Martinsville.
Several of those tracks are good for Hamlin, including winning the Bristol summer night race last year, as well as was fourth at the Martinsville playoff race last fall and 11th at Atlanta.
NASCAR ordered Hamlin back to pit road where the No. 11 crew added a new chunk of ballast to Hamlin’s car. He returned to the race eight laps down.
Here’s what a fabricator from rival team Stewart-Haas Racing tweeted about the incident:
Chevrolet drivers swept the top three rows for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600, led by Kurt Busch‘s pole-winning lap of 181.269 mph.
Jimmie Johnson was next with a lap of 181.214 mph. He was followed by Chase Elliott (181.002 mph), Matt Kenseth (180.923), rookie Tyler Reddick (180.905) and Austin Dillon (180.741).
Ford driver Joey Logano, who starts seventh after a lap of 180.451 mph, was the top qualifier not driving a Chevrolet.
TO THE REAR: Matt DiBenedetto (backup car), Brad Keselowski (unapproved adjustment), Aric Almirola (unapproved adjustment), JJ Yeley (unapproved adjustment) and Timmy Hill (unapproved adjustment)
Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup
Kurt Busch will lead the field to the green flag for tonight’s Coca-Cola 600 after claiming the pole Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
It is Busch’s 28th career pole and first at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch is joined on the front row by Jimmie Johnson. Chase Elliott qualified third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Tyler Reddick. Austin Dillon was sixth, as Chevrolet drivers took the top six spots.
Click here for qualifying results
Aric Almirola spun coming to take the green flag to begin his qualifying lap. He grazed the wall with his rear bumper.
Matt DiBenedetto slapped the wall off Turn 4 during his qualifying lap and will go to a backup car and start at the rear of the field.