Dissecting Kevin Harvick’s rear window violation

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Jeff Hammond and Casey Mears go "Next Level" on the penalty to the No. 4 team.

- So now let's go Next Level, gentlemen, show us exactly where on the race car this issue was.

- Yeah, when you start take-- you can see pretty quickly-- you can see that back glass where it's sucked in right there. Casey, show 'em where it is.

That is pretty blatantly obvious that this has got something that's not supposed to be there.

- Yeah, and then the concern is, when you see this on the track, is that any time that you can get this rear glass to deflect, it can pull the air down on the spoiler, and create more downforce.

- Put more downforce right there on that rear spoiler, and that's the thing that everybody is really concerned about is somebody getting an unfair advantage on the other guy.

- Well, some of the other competitors actually noticed this on the track. Let's hear what Chase Elliott and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, had to say.

- You see that right of that four's glass, is it bowed down?

- Yep, kind of where the jack-- between the orange jackscrew and the black lining it's bowed from the right side of the jackscrew, over.

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, right by the K. When he's up to speed that thing pushes down about, I don't know, two inches, three inches.

- Interesting conversation there between driver and crew chief. Casey, how often do you notice things like that on track, what other guys have on their cars there?

- You notice it a lot, and to be honest, I'm surprised that you don't hear this more. I mean, we're always, as drivers, looking at the other guy's car, trying to pick out what advantages they might have, things that they might be doing that we're not, and obviously this was very clear, you know, at this weekend. But it's something we look at all the time.

- Yeah, what about the crew chief, Jeff, what does he hope to learn?

- Well, when he sees something like this he wants to basically say, hey, are you seein' what I'm seein'?

But to your point, sometimes a crew chief doesn't want to say a whole lot about it. He wants his driver to come back and tell him, I think I'm seeing something maybe we need to do to try to get a little more competitive.

So this kind of conversation is not unusual between a driver and a crew chief, we just don't want everybody else to know about it.

[LAUGHING]

- And speaking of crew chief, Rodney Childers did speak on Sirius XM on Tuesday on "The Morning Drive." His thoughts about this, take a listen.

RODNEY CHILDERS: You know, basically we had a rear window brace fail, and you know, NASCAR mandates that we run a certain t-bar in the back glass, and that t-bar is actually pretty strong. The t-bar ends up being stronger than the back of the roof at that point, and it pulled the back of the roof down. But you know, it's not something that we wanted to happen, you definitely don't want the back of the roof sharp, you want the back of the roof round.

You know, I think everybody thinks that it helped, I would suggest that it probably didn't help. The car was plenty fast enough before that happened, and I think everybody in the garage knows that, and you know, it's just something we need to put behind us and move on.

- So now let's take a look a little further into what he's talking about, Jeff, show us where on the car he's talking?

- Well, here's what we're talking about, these are the braces that run up from the down bar to support the back of the roof. And the one on the right side, folks, you look at it, when you wanna draw up where it's going, it is actually-- you can see where it's broke. So it's not got the support that it needs right in this area, and this is where we saw that in that picture a moment ago, Casey, where all that pressure was coming down.

- Yeah, and I mean, you can argue the fact, we listened to Rodney talk about whether or not was better for speed or downforce or not, but at the end of the day, a lot of times we've worked on trying to get that rear glass in, and it's created more downforce. So that's why it's such a big concern.

- It's a big concern, but also when you take a look at the rule and what happened, no matter whether it was an accidental situation or not, but the braces and support must at the rear glass be supported and be rigid at all times. I mean, that means you can't have a situation like this happen, so as soon as that brace broke, whether it was intentional or not, the penalty was incurred, I mean, there was no way of gettin' around it.

- Yeah, you can't-- you can't ask NASCAR to try to determine whether or not it was intentional or not. I mean, at that point the rule is broken.

- Now Jeff, there's actually two parts to this infraction, rear window, which we've documented, but also the rocker panel extension did not meet NASCAR specifications as well.

- No, it didn't either. This is the area we're talking about, folks, the skirt area just down below the door, and it goes all the way down and seals the race car off to the racetrack, and Casey, the thing is here, again, this part of the race car, it is dictated by NASCAR about what you have to have.

- Yeah, and at the end of the day, it sounds like it wasn't the five-star NASCAR-mandated part that was on the car, so exactly what it was doing at the time is kind of unclear. But it was very clear that something wasn't supposed to be on that car that it was.

- Yeah, and we're hearing it was aluminum, so we don't know for sure, but the part was not right.

- So looking forward, guys, how do you think it affects this team?

- I think you have to go back and kind of like rally back, and to me, going to Phoenix could be a big plus, at least mentally, for everybody on this four car, because they're so good there, I believe they may come back. And if they can run well, especially if they go back to victory lane with no issues, it would restore their confidence.

- Yeah, and if you know a guy like Kevin Harvick, obviously he's done really well. If he had any motivation to go back and do well at a racetrack that he's done very well at, I would say it'd be now, you know. A little bit redemption, because if this was a mistake on their part, they wanna go back and prove to people they can do it the right way.

- What do you think's most concerning, though, about these penalties, because there's a car chief suspension, there's a fine, what is the most concerning?

- I think the biggest concern is messing up the mojo that they're experiencing right now, because it really looked like, to me, that it would be easy for this western swing to wind up being a Harvick western sweep.

- Yeah and I think at the end of the day, I mean, the regular season points are what they are, but if you're going to lose seven, you know, playoff points, that's--

- That's huge.

- --that's a big deal. So at the end of the day, I mean, that really could dictate, you know, a lot of things when he gets into the championship.