Both Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick dropped in the points standings after the Spring 2017 Phoenix race — not because of their final running order, but because of failed inspections at Phoenix International Raceway.
Last night, NASCAR docked Keselowski 35 points and suspended the No. 2’s crew chief Paul Wolfe for three races. NASCAR docked Harvick 10 points, and suspended crew chief Rodney Childers for a single race for rules violations found in inspections following Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
Keselowski’s fifth-place car failed post race inspection with a rear steer of more than 0.56 degrees of skew. The cars commence each race with zero rear skew, but teams are given a tolerance for wear and tear on the car that happens over the course of a given race.
The No. 4 car car had an unapproved track bar slider assembly. The violation was not found on Sunday’s post race inspection, but rather in inspection Wednesday at NASCAR’s Concord, NC research and development center. Each week, the NASCAR R&D facility analyzes the top-two finishers, plus a random car. The No. 4 was the random car coming out of Phoenix.
At Auto Club Speedway this coming race weekend, No. 2’s Wolfe will be replaced by Penske engineer Brian Wilson. Wolfe was also fined $65,000. Childers was fined $25,000, and no replacement has been announced. Stewart-Haas Racing and Childers are appealing NASCAR’s ruling and are asking for the one race suspension to be postponed until after the appeal.
Harvick is currently seventh in the points standings, while Keselowski is second. After being penalized, Harvick would drop to ninth in the points standings, and Keselowski to fourth.
The greater penalty though comes with losing a crew chief for a race or multiple races. While it is early in the season, and teams have a lot of talent, Wolfe and Childers are both considered top tier crew chiefs whose knowledge, expertise and strategies will be missed by their teams during their penalty-induced absences.