NASCAR strips Kevin Harvick’s berth in title race

19 Comments

Kevin Harvick is no longer qualified for the championship race in Miami after NASCAR penalized his team after his Texas win.

The result is that Harvick holds the final transfer spot to Miami but is three points ahead of Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch.

Harvick’s penalty means that there are three spots to be filled for the championship race Sunday in Phoenix. Joey Logano is the only driver who has locked in a spot in the championship race in Miami with his Martinsville victory.

Along with not allowing last weekend’s win to transfer Harvick to the championship race, NASCAR docked Harvick 40 driver points and the team 40 car owner points. NASCAR suspended crew chief, Rodney Childers for two races (the rest of the playoffs) and fined him $75,000. NASCAR also suspended suspended car chief Robert Smith two races (the rest of the playoffs).

The points penalty and fine were the maximum allowed for an L1 penalty.

NASCAR penalized the team for violating Section 20.4.12.a & b in regards to the spoiler. NASCAR stated that the vehicle spoiler must conform to the CAD file and drawing. Spoilers must be used exactly as suppled by the manufacturer.

Stewart-Haas Racing stated it would not appeal the penalty:

“We work tirelessly across every inch of our racecars to create speed and, unfortunately, NASCAR determined we ventured into an area not accommodated by its rule book. We will not appeal the penalty. Instead, we will direct our immediate focus to this weekend’s event in Phoenix and control our destiny on the racetrack.”

Tony Gibson will serve as Harvick’s crew chief the final two races of the season. Nick DeFazio will be the team’s car chief for the next two races.

NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller stated: “It is not our desire to issue any penalties, but will do so when necessary to ensure each race and championship is contested on a level playing field. We will now return our focus to Phoenix, and the battle for a championship.”

Here is what the points standings now look like with Harvick’s penalty:

WIN – Joey Logano (locked into championship field in Miami with Martinsville win)

4,128 points – Kyle Busch

4,125 points – Martin Truex Jr.

4,103 points – Kevin Harvick (last position to transfer to Miami)

4,100 points – Kurt Busch

4,086 points – Chase Elliott

4,068 points – Aric Almirola

4,052 points – Clint Bowyer

 

 

Michael Annett earns first Xfinity win in season opener at Daytona

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Michael Annett won Saturday’s Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway to earn his first career Xfinity victory in his 230th start.

The JR Motorsports driver led 45 of 120 laps and beat teammate Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg and Austin Cindric.

Annett, 32, had never led more than 16 laps in a season before Saturday.

“This is amazing,” Annett told Fox Sports 1. “I couldn’t do it without these guys. They’ve stuck with me through the hard times when everybody count us out, wonders why I get to drive this car. I think we showed it today. They worked their tails off … We got the 1 in Victory Lane. Our slogan this year is ‘One Team, One Dream, One Goal.’ This is one of them, so we’re starting off good.”

He previously won at Daytona in the ARCA Menards Series in 2008. In that race, Allgaier also finished second.

“I couldn’t beat him then and I couldn’t do it today,” Allgaier told FS1. “We tried really hard there at the end. … To see Michael get his first win, he’s tried so hard and to see the effort and time that he’s put into it, especially this offseason, it’s really, really cool.”

The win is the fourth for JR Motorsports in the last six season openers at Daytona (Regan Smith, 2014; Chase Elliott, 2016; Tyler Reddick, 2018 and Annett today).

Annett and Allgaier also delivered JRM its fourth 1-2 finish in the race.

The victory by the No. 1 team is also the first for Annett’s crew chief, Travis Mack.

A year after it had nine non-stage cautions, the 120-lap race was slowed only twice outside of stage breaks for a debris caution and a one-car spin.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Haley

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ross Chastain

WHAT’S NEXT: Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on Feb. 23 on Fox Sports 1.

Check back for more.

Sam Bass, famed paint scheme and race program designer, dies

Getty Images
1 Comment

Sam Bass, the artist known for designing many iconic NASCAR paint schemes and race programs, died Saturday.

His wife Denise confirmed Bass’ passing on Twitter. He was 57.

Bass, who designed Jeff Gordon’s striking “Rainbow Warriors” paint scheme, had spent the last few years looking for a new kidney. That was a result of a sepsis infection that originated in a blister on his left foot in 2005 and led to a below-the-knee amputation in 2008. Bass also had Type 1 diabetes, which he was diagnosed with at the age of 29.

Bass was inspired to become a NASCAR artist when he was 7 after attending his first race at Southside Speedway in suburban Richmond, Virginia.

“I was so amazed that night not only by the excitement and watching those cars run around and beat and bang on each other, but also the color – how all the cars were painted so many different colors,” Bass told NBC Sports in 2017. “I was like, ‘How cool is this?’ I couldn’t wait to get home to pull out my markers.”

The first car Bass designed was Bobby Allison’s Miller High Life car in 1988. That car went on to win the Daytona 500.

He went on to design the first Cup schemes for Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Bass first designed a race program for the 1985 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He designed programs for it and other Speedway Motorsports, Inc. tracks through 2018.

Marcus Smith, the CEO and President of SMI, issued the following statement.

“Our deepest sympathies are with Denise and her family today. Sam Bass has been a significant part of NASCAR’s history. He poured his heart, soul and talent into producing souvenir program covers at many speedways including Charlotte for more than 30 years. His work provided our fans a keepsake to treasure, and that was so appropriate, because Sam was always such a fan of our sport and he was such a treasure to the entire NASCAR family. His body of work will be a legacy that lives forever. We will miss Sam’s smile and positivity.”

NASCAR issued the following statement.

“Though he may have never turned a lap or a wrench, few captured the essence of our sport through his work more than Sam Bass. He was a consistent presence in the NASCAR garage, and his ever-present smile and endearing personality welcomed all. Though we have lost a member of the NASCAR family, his legend will continue in his art – all of which illustrated the greatness of our sport and the talent of a true friend.”

Michael McDowell leads final Daytona 500 practice

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Front Row Motorsport’s Michael McDowell was fastest in the final practice session for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on Fox).

McDowell and his No. 34 Ford recorded nine laps and a top speed of 191.440 mph.

The top five was completed by Ty Dillon (191.432 mph), pole-sitter William Byron (191.339), Alex Bowman (191.278) and Daniel Hemric (190.921).

Only 20 cars made at least one lap in the session.

Kurt Busch recorded the most laps in the session with 16 and was 11th on the speed chart at 189.741 mph.

Of four drivers to make a 10-lap run, Bowman had the best average at 190.334 mph.

There were no incidents in the session.

Click here for the practice report.

Jeffrey Earnhardt honors grandfather Dale Earnhardt with helmet design

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Xfinity Series driver Jeffrey Earnhardt is honoring the “GOAT” in his family with a helmet he’s debuting this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

The “GOAT” – or “Greatest of All-Time” – is his grandfather, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt.

The helmet, which you can see below, bears an image of the seven-time Cup champion riding a horse while shirtless and wearing a cowboy hat.

Next to the image is the text, “Just a goat on his horse!”

Earnhardt will have the helmet today as he starts on the front row of the Xfinity Series season opener (2:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1). Earnhardt finished 15th.

It is the first of nine Xfinity races he’ll start for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

MORE: Jeffrey Earnhardt ready for challenge of winning in Xfinity