Clint Bowyer's hopes of staying in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase have taken a huge hit after being handed a 25 point penalty by NASCAR after an illegal track bar was found on the #15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota during the opening day inspection at Chicagoland last week.

As part of the P4-level penalty, crew chief Billy Scott was also fined $75,000 and has been suspended for three races while team owner Rob Kaufman was penalised 25 points in the car owners standings.

With only three races in each round of the Chase in the new elimination format before the bottom four drivers are cut from contention, overcoming a 25 point penalty is next to impossible unless Bowyer can manage to play a joker by winning a race - something that he hadn't done since October 2012 when he won at Charlotte.

Related Articles

For its part, MWR said that it would immediately appeal the ruling.

"[The team] respectfully disagrees with today's penalties and plans to immediately appeal. MWR has made mistakes in the past, but we feel we are correct in this instance," the team said in a statement. "We look forward to the opportunity to present our case to the appeals committee and have no further public comment until the process is completed."

The specific rule book infractions listed by NASCAR include Section 20.14.c relating to suspension mounts, Section 20.14.2.1.k (components that allow movement under load will not be permitted on the track bar joints), Section 12.5.3.4.1.d about improperly installed approved parts, and Section 12.5.3.4.1.f about the use of components or devices that circumvent NASCAR's official measuring templates and gauges, whether intended or not.

Danica Patrick's Stewart-Haas Racing team has also been penalised by NASCAR following last weekend's race. Crew chief Daniel Knost and car chief Pete White have both been placed on probation for the rest of the year after it was found that the right side quarter panel behind the rear wheel/tyre of the #10 had been modified.

In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the race-winning Joe Gibbs Racing #54 has been given a P2-level penalty after the car failed minimum ride height checks after the finish. Crew chief Chris Gayle has been fined $12,500 and placed on NASCAR probation for the rest of the year and car owner JD Gibbs penalised 10 series championship owner points. The penalty does not affect the race result, and driver Kyle Busch is not affected as he does not receive championship points in the Xfinity Series.

The #18 car driven by Busch's team mate Daniel Suarez was also penalised for a separate infraction at Chicagoland where the right side vertical extension panel (side skirt) was modified after pre-race inspection. Crew chief Eric Phillips and crew member John Egbert Jr. have been placed on NASCAR probation until the end of 2015.

Kurt Busch crew chief to miss part of New Hampshire weekend

Kurt Busch will be missing his regular crew chief for at least part of this weekend's crucial Chase round at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, after Tony Gibson was forced to undergo a mid-week emergency appendectomy.

A spokesman for Stewart-Haas Racing confirmed that Gibson still intended to fly to New Hampshire as soon as he was able, but would likely miss Friday's track activities.

Team engineer John Klausmeier will serve as interim crew chief and Greg Zipadelli, the organisation's vice president of competition, will have "an increased presence with the #41 team" until Gibson returns to duty.

Gibson first joined up with Busch for the final three races of 2014 and this season the pair have clinched two race wins to put the team into the Chase. Busch finished in third place at Chicagoland and is currently in a strong fifth position in the points standings.