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SHR is the Most Penalized Team in the Next-Gen Era: What is Going On?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

Since the Next-Gen car was introduced in 2022, SHR has been hit with four major penalties for illegal modifications to their race cars. No other Cup Series team had garnered more than two, and the penalties have also coincided with a major dip in performance at Stewart-Haas Racing. Where have all of these penalties come from?

  • SHR has slowly been sinking in performance since Kevin Harvick’s Championship collapse in 2020. The team won only 4 races over the next two seasons, but, 2 cars qualified for the Playoffs each season. In 2023, everything bottomed out at SHR failed to win a race for the first time since 2008, and their lone Playoff driver, Harvick, failed to make it out of the Round of 16.
  • During this time frame, SHR has built a reputation for being consistently on the wrong end of NASCAR’s penalty hammer. Could that have anything to do with their drop-off as a race team?
  • Fans have been cackling at SHR’s recent penalty at Atlanta. It’s now a part of a narrative, and the fans are catching on.

Talladega Fall 2022: Kevin Harvick

SHR was squeaky clean throughout most of the 2022 season, but, at Talladega in the Playoffs, Kevin Harvick was penalized for “Modifying a single source part”. That part turned out to be the deck lid. The result was a $100,000 fine for crew chief Rodney Childers along with a 4-race suspension, and the loss of 100 driver and owner points.

Kevin Harvick seemed to think NASCAR was out to get him, as he posted the comment, “Seems strange…” on social media. Harvick had been fiercely critical of the build quality of the Next-Gen car, blaming an incident at Darlington earlier that year on, “Crappy Ass parts”. NASCAR denied that they were singling out Harvick.

Regardless of what did or did not happen, this penalty was not that big in the grand scheme of things. Harvick was already eliminated from the Playoffs, and he would have finished well outside the top 10 in points regardless. Still, this started a worrying trend at SHR.

2023 Coca-Cola 600: Chase Briscoe

At the 2023 Coca-Cola 600, SHR was bopped for an even bigger penalty. Chase Briscoe and the no. 14 team were found guilty of “Counterfeiting a single source part”. Instead of just making modifications to a spec part for the Next-Gen car, they fabricated their own part and put it on a car. The penalty was a $250,000 fine and a 6-race suspension for crew chief Johnny Klausmeier, a loss of 125 driver/owner points, and a loss of 25 Playoff points.

SHR did not appeal, and team executive Greg Zipadelli blamed it on a “Quality control lapse”. It was later found out to be a NACA duct for the engine, and NASCAR showcased it two weeks later at Sonoma.

This penalty threw a hand grenade into Chase Briscoe’s season. Before this penalty, he was 16th in points, right in the midst of the Playoff bubble fight. The penalty dropped him down to 30th with an insurmountable deficit, and it made it virtually impossible to advance through the Playoffs if he made it. A crew chief swap also transpired a couple of weeks later, and Klausmeier was back in the Xfinity Series with Riley Herbst.

Talladega Fall 2023: Kevin Harvick

The fall race at Talladega in 2023 was a heartbreaker for Kevin Harvick fans. It was the closest he came to winning a race all season long, but, it ultimately did not matter as he and the no. 4 team were disciplined for windshield fasteners. NASCAR found that 7 of the 8 windshield fasteners were either missing from the car or loosened after the race.

Harvick was disqualified from the race as a result, which meant he forfeited his 2nd place finish. This amounted to at least 39 points for the penalty, and NASCAR displayed the part issue at Charlotte the next week.

Like the other Talladega penalty, this was, once again, fairly inconsequential. Harvick was already eliminated from the Playoffs, but it was yet another SHR penalty.

Atlanta Spring 2024: Noah Gragson and Ryan Preece

SHR found themselves in the news once again in Atlanta when they had roof deflectors of the no. 10 and no. 41 cars were confiscated before qualifying. NASCAR took the part back to the R&D center and handed SHR a 35 driver/owner points penalty for both drivers. There were no suspensions and no fines, however.

What made this penalty especially fascinating was that SHR spent the entire off-season working to turn fans’ perception of them for the upcoming year. They emphasized their brand as a team with terms like “Bold and apologetic” and “Staying true to our DNA.” Well, it seems not much has changed between 2023 and 2024 as far as penalties go.

The penalty means that Ryan Preece (0 points) and Noah Gragson (-6 points) have to essentially restart from either the starting block or behind it. They both find themselves with 47 and 53 points to make up respectively to get into the Playoffs on points. That’s basically a full race’s worth of points.

SHR’s penalties have put their team behind the eight-ball. It’s become a trend with this race team, and it calls into question how much the team truly did improve after 2023.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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