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NASCAR Lowers Hammer On Paul Menard, No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Team

In the most severe penalty of the 2012 Sprint Cup season to-date - with the possible exception of the ultimately over-turned Jimmie Johnson penalties from Daytona - NASCAR has lowered the boom on Paul Menard and his No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet team.

Menard's car was one of the vehicles taken for random inspection at NASCAR's R&D Center. It was there that irregularities with the frame rails in Menard's ninth-place finishing car were discovered. Not surprisingly, the sanctioning body came down hard with their penalties on the team.

Crew chief Slugger Labbe, car chief Craig Smokstad, and crew member Grant Hutchens have all been suspended until October 3. The trio have also been placed on probation through the end of the calendar year. Menard and Childress were penalized 25 driver and owner points, respectively. In addition, Labbe recieved a $100,000 fine.

Childress has already confirmed that he will appeal the penalties against his team

Should the appeal fail, the penalty ends Menard's shot at making the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He had been 15th in the standings, 15 points behind Ryan Newman for the second wild card spot. A victory over the three races remaining between now and the end of the regular season could have netted a playoff spot for the team, but they will now be 40 points back of Newman.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.