NASCAR: Harvick’s crew chief gets $25,000 fine in P3 level penalty

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Several penalties have been handed out in the last 24 hours in NASCAR, including one to Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team.

As a result of unapproved added weight at Watkins Glen, Harvick’s crew chief Rodney Childers has been issued a $25,000 fine in a P3 level penalty.

This was potentially coming given the “bean bag weights” were left in the car, and affected Harvick’s day.

Here is the full release from NASCAR, issued Wednesday morning:

The No. 4 team that competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been penalized due to a rules infraction committed during the Aug. 10 race at Watkins Glen International.

The infraction is a P3 level penalty and is outlined in Section 12-4.3 of the 2014 rule book:

  • A.Violation examples could include but are not limited to:

o     1(c): Unapproved added weight and/or weight affixed improperly (e.g. Unapproved added weight (size and material); unapproved added weight location, but not of a nature rising to a higher numbered penalty.

The infraction violates the following sections in the rule book:

  • 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing;
  • 20-2.3:Added car weight

o    A. Any weight added to the car must be bolted inside the body shell in an approved weight container and in a position acceptable to NASCAR officials

o    Added weight must be in block form of not less than five pound blocks (no pellets) and painted white with the car number or team identification permanently legible on it.

As a result of this violation, crew chief Rodney Childers has been fined $25,000.

Additionally, a warning was issued to the No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing team for improper adding or removing fuel; per NASCAR, it needs to be done outside the garage structure.

Meanwhile earlier this morning, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series crew member Troy Cupples was suspended indefinitely for violating the sanctioning body’s Substance Abuse Policy.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

Follow@KyleMLavigne