Wednesday, August 22, 2012

RCR Team Hammered For Frame Rail Alterations

Labbe and Menard have been sanctioned
NASCAR has issued penalties, suspensions and fines to the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as a result of rules infractions discovered during post-race inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center following last Sunday’s race at Michigan International Speedway. 

The No. 27 team was found to have illegally altered the frame rails on Paul Menard’s Chevrolet; a violation of Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing and Section 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. 

As a result, crew chief Slugger Labbe has been fined $100,000, suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 3 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. Car chief Craig Smokstad has been suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 3 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, while crew member Grant Hutchens has also been suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 3 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. Driver Paul Menard and owner Richard Childress have been penalized with the loss of 25 championship driver and owner points, respectively.

NASCAR officials say RCR intentionally modified the frame rails on Menard’s car “for the purpose of deceiving NASCAR’s inspection gauges,” raising questions of both safety and illegal competitive advantage.  

NASCAR inspects each chassis before it is approved for competition, using a series of laser-guided measuring devices to police each car to within thousandths of an inch. As part of that certification, NASCAR implants 10 RFID tags on each chassis. Those low-frequency microchips allow inspectors to ensure that each chassis is straight, legal and unaltered when presented for inspection at subsequent races.  

While NASCAR has not commented on what specifically was done to the car, it is believed that at least some of the RFID tags may have been removed and replaced following changes to the car’s chassis, in an attempt to conceal lightening or other unapproved changes to the frame rails. 

NASCAR takes a dim view altering frame rails, since those changes could compromise the safety of the driver. Frame rails are constructed of heavy, box steel and serve as the foundation to which the roll cage, suspension and running gear are all attached.
“We’re going to appeal it,” team owner Richard Childress told “That’s all I’m going to say right now.”


  1. Anonymous5:16 PM

    Why is it that RCR teams are fine to the hilt and JGR teams seem to get away with MUCH more than any other team in NASCAR ???? Just doesn't seem fair. It would appear that each year JGR get at least 1 free pass in the penalty department. Oil pans one year Kyle's car last week Let's get NASCAR to be equal on the rules here JGR is equal to everyone else Right?????

    1. Anonymous7:24 PM

      Ahem, there was NO rule that DIDN'T allow them to build that oil pan. Go back and do your homework. They were fined for NOT submitting the pan to NASCAR but according to the rules, it was legal. It seems the Childress cars have more tinkering fines laid on them than any other team. Remember Clint Boyer's car and the body mounting? How about his NATIONWIDE teams THIS YEAR for illegal bumper covers?

      Who's cheating and what's your gripe?

      Doug from NJ

  2. Wrong. Altering (lightening) frame rails are a MAJOR safety violation, since they are what holds the whole car together, including the roll cage. NASCAR takes that kind of thing VERY seriously.

  3. Anonymous6:02 PM

    What exactly did they do to lighten it ? Must have been some kind of bolt in covers or something easy to remove.

  4. Sometimes, from the outside, looking in Anon, you don't see or understand the nuances that go into the process. I know it looks skewed from some angles, but like Moody pointed out, the subtle looking things may not be so subtle.

    Imagine if maybe Menard center punched the end of the pit road wall. That could have had fascinating implications.

  5. Compromising a driver's safety is beyond unethical. I don't like the wrecks but I count on the roll cage to protect that person in a sport where wrecks are a common thing. Frankly, I don't think the banishment until October is harsh enough.

  6. The frame rail was altered to allow them to skew the rear end longer on the right side . This allows a rear steer efect or as DW says crabin. Nascar only allows very little angle on this crab effect. They altered the frame rail to make Nascar's gauge read legal when it was in fact illegal.Early in the year teams were getting around this rule using the rear sway bar to pull the left side forward and the right side of the rear end housing back. Nascar killed that with the new rule that sway bar mounts had to be directly over the rear end housing. RCR was trying to get the rear steer effect that the HMS cars have. IMHO RCR has been caught cheating too many times this year. The whole organization truck, nationwide and cup should be sent home for one race.

  7. Anonymous10:51 PM

    The right frame rail was altered to throw off Nascar's gauge that reads how much the rear end housing is skewed. Nascar only allows one degree. Teams have been skewing the rear end housing(DW calls this crabing) since 2008, at the time no rule on this. This gives the cars a rear steer effect.Rolls nice trough the center of the corner and more air gets to the passenger side of the spoiler. Back in 2008 they had the rear end housing skewed so much, it was a joke just to push the cars up the scale ramps. At the start of the year teams were getting around this rule with the rear sway bar mounts. Nascar killed that idea with the new rule that the sway bar mounts had to be directly over the rear end housing. RCR was cheating to try to get the effect that the HMS cars have. RCR has been caught cheating too many times this year. IMHO the whole RCR group truck,nationwide and cup should be sent home for one week. After all you have to take into account the whole body of work.

  8. Anonymous11:12 PM

    Nascar needs to take a hard stand on this. The Childress illegal cars are starting to effect the race we see. I understand the 27 car only ran tenth,but some drivers might have used up their tires trying to pass an illegal car.

  9. Between the RCR jack bolts that "mysteriously" backed off, and now this frame rail problem, RCR makes the 48 bunch look like angels

  10. I can't believe the media bought into that right rear jack bolt backing off an inch. If the right rear backs off that much the left front of the splitter would have been porpousing from 1 to 3 1/2 inchs of the ground. Camera shots of the 3 show the splitter sealed off perfect late in the race. All RCR has to do is offer a little cheap wine and cheese once a month and the media hounds buy any thing he says.