DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — NASCAR vowed last summer to crack down on cheaters, pledging to toughen penalties in a sport where bending the rules is as common as banging bumpers.

Officials made good on that promise Tuesday.

NASCAR suspended the crew chiefs for Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Scott Riggs and Elliott Sadler and docked all four drivers points before the season-opening Daytona 500 — its strongest statement to date on cheating.

All four cars failed qualifying inspection, and a fifth, Michael Waltrip's startup Toyota Camry, faces additional penalties that could be even more severe.

"It's obvious that we've ramped up our penalties, and we're going to get people's attention," competition director Robin Pemberton said. "We're going to grab this one by the horns."

Robbie Reiser, crew chief for Kenseth, and Kenny Francis, crew chief for Kahne, were suspended four races. Rodney Childers, crew chief for Riggs, and Josh Brown, crew chief for Sadler, were suspended two races.

Kahne, Riggs and Sadler are Dodge teammates at Evernham Motorsports. Kenseth, the 2003 series champion and runner-up last season, drives a Ford for Roush Racing.

In toughening its penalties, NASCAR made the unprecedented move of taking points away before the season has even started. Kahne and Kenseth were docked 50 points apiece, while Riggs and Sadler lost 25 each.

All four crew chiefs can appeal, a process that could allow them to work the Daytona 500. If they do and the committee cannot schedule a hearing before Sunday's race, they would be allowed to participate.

For more reaction to the cheating scandal, check out the The Fast and Fabulous" blog by Valli Hilaire.