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Harsh penalties imposed on Menard's RCR team

NASCAR has handed down heavy penalties on the #27 team fronted by driver Paul Menard, after discovering rules infractions deemed to be trying to deceive official inspections.
NASCAR has handed down heavy points penalties, fines, suspensions and probations to the #27 Sprint Cup team operated by Richard Childress Racing, after finding alterations to the basic Car of Tomorrow body framework.

The modifications were discovered this week during post-race inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center, following last Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway.

Alterations to the basic CoT bodywork are strictly against NASCAR's rules, and the sanctioning body has taken a very harsh view of what they found in their examination of the #27 car driven by Paul Menard.

Crew chief Slugger Labbe has been handed a $100,000 fine and suspended from NASCAR competition until October 3 and on probation after that through to the end of the year. The car chief Craig Smokstad and crew member Grant Hutchens also receive the same suspension and probation penalties, but escape financial sanction.

Paul Menard will lose a hefty 25pts from his Sprint Cup championship standings, making it all but impossible for him to pull off a late entry into the Chase in the three races remaining before the cut-off.

"These penalties are awfully stiff, twenty-five points in today's points system is a lot," said SPEED TV analyst Larry McReynolds, a former NASCAR crew chief. "We're in the sixth year of NASCAR certifying these chassis and I don't think this ever has happened before because everyone knows how sacred this ground truly is."

The #27 also loses 25pts in the car owner standings for Richard Childress. In the old points system, that would have been the equivalent of nearer a 100pt deduction for both driver and car owner.

It's not entirely clear whether the team will exercise its right of appeal over the penalties and their severity. Initial reports indicated that Childress was planning to lodge an appeal, but subsequent reports said that the team was still weighing up their options before deciding.

The official announcement from NASCAR stated that the #27 team was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4K (race equipment that has been previously certified or previously approved by NASCAR for use in an event, pursuant to sub-section 8-12, has been altered, modified, repaired or changed in any manner. Intentionally modifying frame rails for the purpose of deceiving NASCAR's inspection gauges) of the 2012 NASCAR Rule Book.

On Tuesday, it was also announced that Dave Rogers, crew chief of the #18 Sprint Cup team, had been fined $25,000 and put on NASCAR probation through to October 3 after an improperly attached weight was found on Kyle Busch's car at Michigan. Car chief Wesley Sherrill was also handed a probation for the same period. There were no points deductions from either the driver or car owner, however.

In that instance, NASCAR's official announcement stated that the #18 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-2.3A (improperly attached weight) of the 2012 NASCAR rule book. The infraction occurred during practice on August 18.



Related Pictures

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Paul Menard in the garage. [Photo credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR ]
The #27 Menard`s Chevrolet driven by Paul Menard [Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR]
The front right tire of the #27 CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet, driven by Paul Menard, catches fire during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford tangle during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field to start the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, poses in Victory Lane with the trophy after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, races Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS races to a third-place finish Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet SS won the race and Jimmie Johnson driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS finished second. (Photo by HHP/Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet SS gets the chequered flag as he crosses the finish line Sunday, March 30, 2014, winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Chevrolet finished first, second and third in the race. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS (left) battles Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet SS Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Busch won the race. Johnson finished second.  (Photo by HHP/Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet SS celebrates Sunday, March 30, 2014 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Chevrolet finished first, second and third in the race. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, applies the winner sticker in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with his girlfriend Patricia Driscoll after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, races to the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia.

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