Kevin Harvick believes NASCAR is headed down a “slippery slope” if it makes decisions on penalties based on information or pictures shared on social media.
Harvick dominated last weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – his second consecutive victory – and passed at-track inspection.
Shortly after the race, photos began surfacing on social media that appeared to show the rear window of Harvick’s No. 4 Ford bowed in on the right side.
On Wednesday, NASCAR announced that it had issued an L1 penalty to Harvick’s team because his rear window did not remain rigid at all times during the race. It also discovered a side-skirt on the car was made of steel rather than the required aluminum.
NASCAR did not determine the team used any illegal parts and only mentioned a brace holding the window in place had failed.
Social media's power
Asked Friday at ISM Raceway if he thought without the pressure from social media the No. 4 would still have received the penalty, Harvick said:
“I don’t think so. That is a slippery slope. You see the repercussions of all the pictures and things that pop up from previous races that immediately show that is not something that has ever been taken before,” Harvick said. “Sometimes you just feel like you have maybe been proven a point. I think that is more the case than anything here.
“I compare it to golf. It failed miserably when you look at Lexi Thompson and the outrage of the players and things that have happened the last couple years. The root of the problem is that my friends that don’t follow racing are very confused on a penalty that comes out on Wednesday.
“The officials in the garage do a great job. It just feels like it is a micromanaged situation from above what these guys do in the garage, to appease people sitting on social media and trying to officiate a sporting event instead of letting these guys in the garage do what they do and do a great job with it week in and week out.”
Harvick said when Childers left the R&D Center in Concord, N.C., following the inspection, he had been given no indication NASCAR inspectors had issues with the car.
For the infractions, Childers was fined $50,000, car chief Robert Smith was suspended two races and Harvick lost the use of the seven playoff points he collected from the race. Harvick and the team each was docked 20 points.
The team has yet to decide with it will appeal.
Didn't affect race outcome
Harvick said he “absolutely” would still have won the race without the window issue.
“Hands down. If you look at Atlanta, the car was there the week before. Same team, same window bracing, same roof, same side skirts, same everything,” he said. “It was in the R&D center the week before.
“It has been there 49 times in three years. Technicalities. If you have to find a technicality that is that deep, that is the thing that is frustrating from a team standpoint and especially the explanation when you look at the window bracing and the way the window is attached to the car. You could call that penalty on any car in the field at some point.”
Harvick said he just wants NASCAR to use a consistent process in determining penalties.
“If you want to officiate it with pictures during the race and call people to pit road and do those types of things, from a NASCAR standpoint I am fine with that, as long as it is consistent,” he said.
“As you can see, from a lot of the pictures roaming around on the internet this week, it is not consistent.”