Published On: Sun, Nov 11th, 2018

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series: Playoff Leaderboard Shuffled Up

Playoff Leaderboard Shuffled Up.A major post-race penalty issued by NASCAR to Sunday’s Texas Motor Speedway winner, Kevin Harvick, on Wednesday has resulted in the loss of 40 owner and driver points and the benefits of the victory, which had given the team an automatic berth into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4 in the Nov. 18 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

During routine post-race inspection at the NASCAR R & D Center outside Charlotte this week, officials penalized Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford for violations involving the spoiler.

In addition to the loss of points and the automatic Championship 4 slot, the No. 4 team’s crew chief (Rodney Childers) and car chief (Robert “Cheddar” Smith) were suspended for the next two Monster Energy Series races (Phoenix and Miami). Stewart-Haas Racing has announced that former Kurt Busch crew chief Tony Gibson will serve as the interim boss atop the box for the remainder of the season.

Instead of securing a bid in the Championship 4 at Miami, Harvick drops to fourth on the Playoff leaderboard – 25 points behind Kyle Busch, who is second only to Martinsville winner Joey Logano. And he now holds only a three-point edge on fifth-place Kurt Busch, who sits just outside the Championship 4 cutoff.

With Harvick’s penalty, three of the four Playoff finale positions still remain open and that means seven of the eight current Playoff drivers are still vying for that one-race, winner-takes-all title opportunity the four-driver championship lineup will be decided in the Can-Am 500 this Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at the newly renovated ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona.

Despite the setback, Harvick can take some solace in being the winningest driver in the field at ISM Raceway with nine victories. Kyle Busch and older brother Kurt Busch split the 2005 season wins at the track and Joey Logano, the only driver to have secured a bid in this year’s championship finale, won the 2016 Playoff race. They are the only four drivers among the current Playoff field with wins in the Arizona desert.

Source & Photo Credit: NASCAR

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