Paul Menard and his RCR team were heavily penalized after NASCAR officials discovered illegally altered frame rails on Paul Menard’s Chevrolet following last month’s race at Michigan International Speedway. After potential issues were discovered during post-race inspection at the track, the car was transported back to NASCAR’s Research and Development facility in Concord, NC for further scrutiny.
NASCAR alleges that the team made changes to the car, reportedly to increase the amount of yaw in its body. The team is also accused of illegally altering the frame rails on the car to avoid detection; 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.
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.
Crew chief Richard “Slugger” Labbe was fined $100,000, suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 3 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. Car chief Craig Smokstad and crewman Grant Hutchens were suspended until Oct. 3 and placed on probation until Dec. 31. They have remained on the job pending appeal.
Team owner Richard Childress was docked 25 owner points and Menard forfeited 25 driver points.
NASCAR was informed by the team Wednesday that it will appeal the Smokstad and Hutchens suspensions, but not the other penalties.