Paul Menard and his team have been severely punished with fines and suspensions after technical irregularities were found in his car following last weekend's Michigan Cup race.
According to a statement from NASCAR, the team is being penalized for "Intentionally modifying frame rails for the purpose of deceiving NASCAR's inspection gauges," after the car was inspected this week at the sanctioning body's Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. As a result, the Richard Childress Racing driver has lost 25 points in the driver standings, which drops him one spot in points to 16th behind Hendrick Motorsports Jeff Gordon.
A victory for Menard in the next three races would place him in contention for a wild-card entry into the playoff series, but he would have to overcome a bigger deficit in points relative to the four drivers also with a single win who are placed ahead of him in the standing.
Menard's crew chief Richard "Slugger" Labbe has been fined $100,000 and suspended until Oct, 3, which means he won't be able to return until the Chase event at Talladega. He has also been placed on probation until the end of the year. Car chief Craig Smokstad and crew member Grant Hutchens have also been suspended and placed on probation for the same period.