NASCAR Issues Penalties to 4 Teams at Darlington

Getty Kevin Harvick's team failed inspection twice alongside three other teams.

The sanctioning body has sent four crew members home ahead of the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway. Failed inspections have resulted in ejections for Hendrick Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports, and Stewart-Haas Racing.

NASCAR issued a penalty report on May 6 after the Cup Series entries went through inspection. The No. 5 of Kyle Larson, the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick, the No. 34 of Michael McDowell, and the No. 48 of Alex Bowman all failed two times, resulting in the loss of a crew member and the loss of pit selection. There were no three-time failures.

The No. 5 team will move forward without car chief Jesse Saunders, the No. 4 team will be without car chief Robert Smith, the No. 34 team will lose car chief Ryan Bergenty, and the No. 48 team will lose car chief Ty Sipes.

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The Teams Will Still Qualify for Position

Kyle Larson

GettyKyle Larson will still be able to post a qualifying lap.

Failing inspection twice will take a key crew member away from each team, but they will still have an opportunity to secure a spot near the front of the pack. They will be able to take part in qualifying since they passed on the third time through.

Another benefit of only failing inspection twice as opposed to three times is that the drivers will not have to worry about falling a lap behind the competition. They will not have to start at the rear of the field or serve a pass-through penalty on the opening lap.

The ability to qualify for Harvick will be important considering that he continues to seek his first win since the 2020 season. He has qualified inside the top 10 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and Richmond Raceway during the 2022 season. However, his average start is only 18.3 after the first 11 races.


Only 1 of These Drivers Has Won at Darlington

Kevin Harvick

GettyKevin Harvick celebrates a win at Darlington Raceway.

Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway presents another opportunity for the Cup Series teams, especially those that failed inspection multiple times. Three of the drivers enter the weekend seeking their first win at The Lady in Black while another wants to add to his trophy collection.

Michael McDowell, Kyle Larson, and Alex Bowman are all winless at Darlington in Cup Series competition. Bowman has only two top-10 finishes with a career-best runner-up in 2020. Larson has seven top-10 finishes at the track in his Cup Series career, headlined by three consecutive runner-ups (2019, both 2021 races).

McDowell has yet to post a top-10 finish at Darlington Raceway. He has career-best outings of 17th and 16th from the 2020 season, but he has dealt with both mechanical issues and crashes at the South Carolina track throughout his career. Now he will try to surpass his previous best performances while putting himself back into playoff contention.

Harvick, for comparison, has made 28 total starts at Darlington Raceway during his career. He has achieved success overall by posting top-10 finishes in 60.7% of his starts and only failing to finish one race. Harvick also has three wins at Darlington (2014, two in 2020), so he will enter the weekend as one of the drivers to watch.

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