NASCAR put the hammer down on Tuesday.
In an effort to send a strong message that cheating is not tolerated in the Nextel Cup Series, the governing body suspended an unprecedented four crew chiefs for Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500.
Kenny Francis and Robbie Reiser, the crew chiefs for Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth, were suspended a total of four races and fined $50,000 each for violations discovered during post-qualifying inspection on Sunday.
In addition, Kahne and Kenseth were docked 50 championship points and their car owners, Ray Evernham and Jack Roush, were docked 50 owners' points.
Rodney Childers and Josh Browne, the crew chiefs for Scott Riggs and Elliott Sadler -- Kahne's teammates at Evernham Motorsports -- were suspended two races and fined $25,000.
The drivers were docked 25 championship points each and Evernham was docked 25 owner points for each.
It is the first time in Cup history that four crew chiefs were sent home from one race.
All four can appeal, which would allow them to participate in the 500 because the hearing would not take place until after the race. Geoff Smith, the president of Roush Racing, is considering an appeal for Reiser. Evernham was undecided.
"It's our job to escalate penalties," France said. "It will be undeniable that when you keep pushing the system and test the integrity of the sport, we will do whatever it takes.
"It doesn't mean you go out and get somebody in the electric chair, but it does mean you step up penalties that make it a true deterrent. Even when we do that, somebody without much to lose or somebody that thinks they're smarter than somebody else will always try," he said.
No announcement was made on the infraction involving Michael Waltrip, whose Toyota was impounded and intake manifold confiscated after an unspecified substance was discovered in the manifold before qualifying.
Officials at the Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., continue to investigate the substance which has been speculated to be Sterno -- a jellied, canned alcohol product sold for heating uses, primilary in the food-service industry -- by engine specialists of several other teams.
NASCAR will break down the rest of the car on Wednesday to determine if Waltrip will be allowed to use it in Thursday's 150-mile qualifying race that sets the rest of the 500 field behind pole-sitter David Gilliland and Ricky Rudd of Robert Yates Racing.
NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Waltrip could be forced to his backup car if further evidence is found.
NASCAR chairman Brian France, giving his annual state of the sport address, hopes the penalties send a message that the governing body will fight to maintain the integrity of the sport.
This is the second straight year that a crew chief has been sent home from the 500. Chad Knaus was ejected a year ago after a device designed to raise the rear window of Jimmie Johnson's car was discovered during post-qualifying inspection.
Knaus was suspended three additional races and fined $25,000, but no points were taken. Johnson went on to win the 500 with interim crew chief Darian Grubb and eventually won the championship.
"Rest assured no alarm button is going off," said France, who last year expressed concern about the increased regularity of violations. "Integrity matters. Whatever it takes we will come forward and figure that out."
If that ultimately means suspending the driver, France said that will occur.