If NASCAR was a certain 1977 hit movie, you could say that Sheriff Buford T. Justice finally got his hands on the Bandit. It might not have derailed the adventure, but there is a danger the Snowman might not be able to deliver that truckload of suds to their destination on time.
That quest could be spoiled by spoilers. Specifically, NASCAR tagged the team of Kevin Harvick with a top drawer penalty violating the rules that explicitly points out that spoilers must be used exactly as supplied from the manufacturer and not altered. Instead of getting that free pass to contend at Homestead, the boys are just three points in.
Gone are all the benefits of the win at Texas. No free pass, though Harvick does keep the guns and the hat. Gone are 40 of the sixty points he picked up in that race. Gone is crew chief Rodney Childers for the rest of the season. Gone is $75,000 from Childers’ pocket. Gone is car chief Robert Smith until the campaign is over. Stewart-Haas Racing will not appeal the penalties, as production manager Tony Gibson returns to the box he last sat atop a year ago, when he directed Kurt Busch to the 2017 Daytona 500 victory. With the decision, Busch now finds himself just three points out of the Homestead final four.
Post-race tear downs at the NASCAR Research and Development Center can be a real bitch. Ryan Blaney lost 20 points from Texas, along with crew chief Jeremy Bullins, who was fined $50,000, and car chief Kirk Almquist for the rest of the season. Same goes for Erik Jones, as crew chief Chris Gayle coughs up the same amount of cash and he joins car chief Jason Overstreet on the sidelines until the smoke clears in Florida.
Of course, neither of those rulings have anywhere close to the same impact as the hit taken by the No. 4 crew. It could all still end the same way most expect, with Logano joined by the Big Three at the big dance. Now, however, it will take a little more action before this movie runs the final credits.
In the words of Sheriff Justice, “What we’re dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law.” Well, message delivered.
Now it is time for the Bandit to keep his foot hard on the peddle, son, never mind them brakes. Let it all hang out ’cause you’ve got a run to make. Phoenix just got a lot more interesting.
1. JOEY LOGANO – ROUND VICTORY – 4119 Pts (7 Wins)
Shell Pennzoil is his Phoenix sponsor. At Homestead, maybe it should be Target.
2. KYLE BUSCH – 4128 POINTS (7 Wins)
Nothing has changed for him, other than there are now three opens spots instead of just two.
3. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 4125 POINTS (4 Wins)
Do not expect him to go down this week without having vengeance in his heart for the next.
4. KEVIN HARVICK – 4103 Pts (8 Wins)
A nine-time Phoenix winner suddenly could sure use a 10th about now.
5. KURT BUSCH – 4100 POINTS (1 Win)
Would hate to break his brother’s heart but as for those other two…
6. CHASE ELLIOTT – 4086 POINTS (3 Wins)
Phoenix has been kind to him in the past. She needs to be downright romantic on Sunday.
7. ARIC ALMIROLA – 4068 POINTS (1 Win)
His schedule reads, “Win this week or destroy Logano next week.” Not sure about the word “or.”
8. CLINT BOWYER – 4052 POINTS (2 Wins)
If anyone needed a tinkered spoiler last week, it was him.
9. RYAN BLANEY – 2263 POINTS (1 Win)
I am not sure if being in danger of dropping to 10th in the standings is that big a deal.
10. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 2259 POINTS (3 Wins)
The Miller Lite Ford will look a lot like a giant pysanka this weekend.
11. DENNY HAMLIN – 2220 POINTS
Well, Texas sure sucked.
12. KYLE LARSON – 2211 POINTS
Tires. If Fred Flintstone ran Goodyear things might have gone differently.
13. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 2195 POINTS
Sometimes Jimmie screws up. Sometimes it is Chad. In Texas, it was all NASCAR.
14. ALEX BOWMAN – 2187 POINTS
A Tucson boy returns to Arizona.
15. ERIK JONES – 2184 POINTS (1 Win)
He probably would prefer to lose those 20 points rather than $50,000.
16. AUSTIN DILLON – 2184 POINTS (1 Win)
The winless streak has now reached 34.
17. RYAN NEWMAN – 721 POINTS
Are we done yet?
18. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 676 POINTS
You could say that Stenhouse was in the eighth fastest unpenalized car at Texas.
19. PAUL MENARD – 672 POINTS
Does not exactly have the biggest social media footprint.
20. DANIEL SUAREZ – 666 POINTS
Still nothing set for 2019.