The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford of Kevin Harvick failed inspection three times ahead of Thursday evening’s Busch Pole Award qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. As a result, he did not make a qualifying lap and will start Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) from the 39th position.
Per the rule book, car chief Robert “Cheddar” Smith will be ejected for the remainder of the weekend, including Sunday night’s 600-mile event. Crew chief Rodney Childers stayed in the garage following qualifying, working with the rest of the No. 4 team as the sun dipped in the sky and the grandstands cleared for approaching severe weather.
“The loss of Cheddar just means I have to work a hell of a lot harder,” he said lightheartedly. “But I was a car chief for many years and I can do it as good as anybody can. So, we’ll get through it. We’ll miss him on Sunday though.”
The issue with the No. 4 car involved the right-rear section of the car in the Optical Scanning Station (OSS) machine. Smith, prior to his ejection, and Childers sanded down the section multiple times, and Childers eventually rewrapped the car with Busch Beer branding.
“We worked on this thing for 12 hours Monday trying to get all of it how they wanted,” Childers said. “We felt good about it when we unloaded it … everything was good and then we went back in to qualify and it was red and we sanded on it and it was more red and we sanded on it again and it was more red. So, that part I don’t understand and that part’s disappointing, but it’s not their fault.
“Everybody’s going to push things as much as they can and I think everybody knows the 4 team is going to push things as much as we can and win races. It’s disappointing to start in the back, it’s disappointing to not have Cheddar here, but we’ll get through it as a race team and we’ll have a good car on Sunday.”
The team will also serve a 30-minute practice hold in Saturday’s final session.