Ryan Newman is now in a virtual must-win situation with one regular season race remaining. NASCAR docked the Richard Childress Racing driver 15 points Wednesday for failing postrace inspection last week at Darlington Raceway.
The penalty -- which included a $25,000 fine for crew chief Luke Lambert and the loss of 15 owner points -- drops the winless Newman 22 points behind Jamie McMurray for the final Chase for the Sprint Cup transfer spot entering Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway.
Newman could still technically qualify for the playoffs on points, but it would require Chase Elliott (39 points ahead), Austin Dillon (31) or McMurray to have a bad finish in the Federated Auto Parts 400. Should Newman win at Richmond, he would automatically make the Chase regardless of his points ranking.
Newman finished eighth at Darlington, but his car failed the Laser Inspection Station following the Southern 500. The LIS takes various measurements on the car to determine if it's within compliance.
This marks the second penalty for Newman in 2016. He was penalized 10 points in March for illegal brackets found on the No. 31 car.
Also failing the LIS was Kyle Larson, who finished third. NASCAR penalized Larson 15 points and fined crew chief Chad Johnston $22,500. Larson is securely in the Chase, having won Aug. 28 at Michigan International Speedway.