NASCAR Suspends Kevin Harvick’s Crew Chief

Kevin Harvick

Getty Kevin Harvick arrives at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will head to Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, Oct. 3, with the goal of winning and locking up a spot in the Round of Eight. However, the NASCAR veteran will not have a key member of his team. Crew chief Rodney Childers will miss the race at Talladega Superspeedway while serving a suspension.

NASCAR issued a press release on Sunday, Sept. 26, after the Las Vegas playoff race came to an end. The sanctioning body noted that Harvick’s No. 4 Ford Mustang had two lugnuts not safe and secure while vehicles belonging to Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain, and Daniel Suarez all had one lugnut not safe and secure.

According to Section of the NASCAR Rule Book, one loose lugnut results in a penalty of $10,000 for Cup Series teams and $5,000 for Xfinity Series teams. Having two loose lugnuts during inspection increases the fine to $20,000 and adds a one-race suspension for the crew chief. Three or more loose lugnuts will result in the disqualification of the stock car.

With Childers out of the race, Greg Zipadelli will step into the role. He previously served as a crew chief for two races in 2020, joining forces with Clint Bowyer. He also worked with Chase Briscoe for four Xfinity Series races.

The YellaWood 500 Is the Best Race for Childers To Miss

Joey Logano Kevin Harvick

GettyJoey Logano (left) and Kevin Harvick (right) race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Losing a crew chief for a critical playoff race is not ideal, but the trip to Talladega Superspeedway is the best option out of the remaining events on the schedule. The reason is that the pit strategies play out differently at the 2.66-mile track.

Instead of making decisions based on individual stock cars, the manufacturers help determine when to head to pit road. The Ford drivers all go for fresh Goodyear tires and Sunoco fuel as a group while maintaining the integrity of the pack. The Chevrolet and Toyota drivers follow the same strategy.

A fitting example of this strategy change is the 2021 Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. The three manufacturers implemented different strategies during the final stage while trying to set up their respective drivers for the win. The Fords headed down pit road first while the Toyotas and Chevrolets remained out on the track.

The strategy backfired for the other two manufacturers as a three-car wreck brought out the caution flag. The Ford drivers were able to remain out on the track and gain position while the rest of the field had to head down pit road under caution for tires and fuel.

Harvick Remains in Reach of the Round of 8

The driver of the No. 4 Ford Mustang currently sits below the cutline, but he is in a better situation than some of his peers. Harvick only faces a seven-point deficit as he heads to Talladega Superspeedway. This is by no means a major obstacle for a driver with one win, eight top-fives, and 17 top-10s at the 2.66-mile track.

The last time Harvick headed to Talladega was for the Geico 500 on April 25. He started 16th overall in the Busch Dog Brew Ford Mustang and raced his way to a fourth-place finish behind Brad Keselowski, William Byron, and Michael McDowell. Now he will try to repeat this feat one week after battling a damaged stock car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway en route to a ninth-place finish.

“You know, it was about where we finished,” Harvick said after the Sept. 26 race, per NBC Sports. “That was about what we had tonight. We got the right-front fender nicked up a little bit, but that didn’t really change the car so we lucked out on that. We battle and gained ground on it. That is what we wanted to do, not give it all away today. We were able to gain ground and we will go from there.”

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