NASCAR issued a major penalty to Mike Harmon Racing on November 22 after a violation of the testing policy. The team has now responded with a statement and declared that it will appeal the decision.
“Today, we were notified by NASCAR that they handed out sanctions against MHR, Crew Chief Ryan Bell and the use of the 74 car at an exhibition charity event at Rockingham,” MHR said in a statement on Twitter on November 22. “This was not an intentional attempt to circumvent the rules that NASCAR has in place to ensure the integrity of the sport. In the over four decades of being in motorsports, I’m shocked at the penalties that were imposed on our team. We will be appealing NASCAR’s ruling as we are dedicated to the Xfinity Series, our great partners, fans and our supporters.”
According to the press release from NASCAR, the Xfinity Series team Section 5.1.a.c.d: Vehicle testing in the NASCAR Rule Book after the No. 74 took part in an event at Rockingham Speedway, resulting in an L2 penalty. The sanctioning body docked Harmon 75 owner points and 75 driver championship points, a penalty that will go into effect in the 2022 season.
Additionally, NASCAR fined crew chief Ryan Bell $50,000 and suspended him for the opening six championship points events of the 2022 season.
Harmon Took Laps Around Rockingham in 2 Separate Stock Cars
NASCAR issued penalties after Mike Harmon Racing posted multiple photos on social media that showed the driver-owner making laps around the famed track. He took the No. 74 Dodge Challenger and the No. 74 Chevrolet to Rockingham Speedway for an event called Motorsport 4the Masses.
The organizer of the event also responded to the penalties with a statement on Facebook. They explained that Harmon followed the rules of avoiding the ragged edge and that he was a last-minute addition to the driver roster. The statement also clarified that the organizer did not know that Harmon was in violation of any NASCAR rules.
“We held exhibitions at Rockingham that day, not test sessions, not races. The purpose was to let people see stock cars gracing a historic speedway again,” the statement on November 22 said. “Mike Harmon was a last-minute addition. He did not ask or discuss his reasons for being at our event beforehand, he was treated as all other participants.
“We did not know what car he was bringing beforehand, and quite honestly, until someone told me it was an Xfinity car he still drove, I had assumed he was retired based simply on how long ago he had started racing. He did make a comment to me when (as I say to all drivers at our events), ‘I hope you had a good day and enjoyed yourself.’ His comment was ‘Yall run a good event. It is nice to just drive with friends with no pressure and enjoy it every now and then.'”
Harmon Made 1 Start During the 2021 Xfinity Series Season
The 63-year-old Harmon has primarily transitioned away from his driving career. He focuses on running the race team that also fields Kyle Weatherman’s No. 47 Chevrolet and several drivers in the No. 74 Chevrolet.
Harmon only made one start in the stock car during the 2021 season, down from the four in 2020. He suited up at Martinsville Speedway and started 40th overall. His day came to an end after 38 laps due to the No. 74 overheating.
While Harmon only made one start, Bayley Currey suited up for 17 races in the No. 74 Chevrolet. He turned in the team’s best performance with a seventh-place run at Phoenix Raceway on March 13.