Panel upholds suspensions for No. 27 Childress team

Paul Menard pits the #27 Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 19, 2012 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel upheld six-week suspensions Monday for two members of the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Paul Menard drove the car to a ninth-place finish at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 19, but his car was found with illegally altered frame rails in a post-race inspection two days later at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., two days later.

On Aug. 22, NASCAR issued stiff penalties, including the loss of 25 driver points for Menard and 25 team-owner points for Childress. Crew chief Richard “Slugger” Labbe was suspended six weeks and fined $100,000 while car chief Craig Smokstad and engineer Grant Hutchens also drew six-week bans.

On Sept. 5, the Childress team announced it would not appeal the points penalties or Labbe’s fine and suspension. Barring a final appeal to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer, the suspensions of Smokstad and Hutchens are effective immediately.

All three crew members remain on probation until Dec. 31. Menard’s long-shot hopes of qualifying as a wild card for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs were extinguished after a 23rd-place finish last Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.

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