Menard's crew chief fined, suspended for Michigan violations

NASCAR handed down severe penalties to Richard Childress Racing's No. 27 team in the Sprint Cup Series for unapproved modifications found on Paul Menard's car this past weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

According to a news release from NASCAR on Wednesday, the No. 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.

Race officials discovered the violations this week during post-race inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. following Sunday's race at Michigan.

Crew chief Slugger Labbe received a $100,000 fine and was suspended from NASCAR competition until Oct. 3 -- the next six Sprint Cup races. Labbe was also placed on probation until Dec. 31. Car chief Craig Smokstad and crew member Grant Hutchens received the same suspension and probation period as Labbe.

Menard and car owner Richard Childress were each penalized with a loss of 25 points. Menard dropped from 15th to 16th in the point standings. With three races to go before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, he is 87 points behind 10th-place Denny Hamlin. Menard has yet to win a race this season. He finished ninth at Michigan.