Martin Truex Jr. was sent to the back of the field for NASCAR's Cup race at Texas and docked 20 points while crew chief James Small was ejected for an illegal spoiler.
The 2017 Cup champion and runner-up the past two seasons also was fined $35,000. The points deduction still leaves Truex seventh in the points standings going into Sunday's race, but he's now 51 points behind the cutoff line for the final four.
Truex likely will need to win either at Texas or next week in Martinsville to qualify for the championship run for the fourth straight year. The Toyota driver was supposed to start on the outside of the third row.
While Truex is winless in 30 starts at Texas, his only win this year was in Martinsville. Joe Gibbs Racing also was docked 20 points.
NASCAR said Truex, Daniel Suarez and Chad Finchum failed inspection twice. Suarez also was moved to the back of the field. Finchum was already there. There were no further penalties for Suarez and Finchum.