Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Mark Howell · Thursday July 14, 2011
Last week’s Sprint Cup electronic fuel injection test, held at Kentucky Speedway was one of those memorable days when you could almost hear a page being turned in NASCAR’s history book. Not that EFI was an overnight development – teams have been working on this technology for almost three years – but to watch cars circle the track and log lap times using this most “common” of fuel delivery systems was nothing short of fascinating. NASCAR’s use of carburetors has been questioned and debated for years, at least since mass-produced automobiles switched away from that form of equipment back in the 1980s. Certainly, it’s taken the sanctioning body awhile to catch up, but now, all looks good for a change to electronic fuel injection in 2012. That doesn’t mean, however, that the overall reception for injection will be a happy one, at least for those Cup teams struggling with limited manufacturer assistance and reduced/disappearing sponsorship. Fuel injection on Cup cars might be the next big thing in NASCAR racing, but it’ll come with a big price tag as older parts give way to newer ones.
As has been the case with blocking other changes in technology, the elephant-in-the-race shop has been money – as in “how expensive will this mandated switchover be?” It’s the same question we heard, and the same concern we expressed, a few years ago when the “Car of Tomorrow” became the “Car of Today.” The idea was really quite simple: a Cup team could arguably (with massive emphasis on this particular word) compete for an entire NASCAR season with a stable of two or three cars. A focused approach toward cost containment was put into place, especially as the national economy showed signs of weakness and the “Great Recession” loomed ahead on the financial horizon. Brett Bodine, the former car owner/driver who campaigned consistently on an annual fraction of the funding enjoyed by the bigger (and often more competitive) Sprint Cup teams, was charged with the job of trying to help engineers develop a new style of stock car that would be safer, more standardized to build, and less expensive to maintain.
The CoT became a reality, but to the tune of race team budgets that found themselves stretched beyond recognition. Fleets of “old style” cars housed in shops all across the Piedmont suddenly became obsolete, so much so that teams had trouble getting rid of them. Some of the “antiques” made their way into ARCA competition, but the weakening economy limited the number of teams capable of affording the Sprint Cup castoffs. The same will be seen yet again once electronic fuel injection becomes the new NASCAR standard in 2012.
Think, for a moment, about the number of engines built, raced, and maintained by a Sprint Cup team. Think, then, about the sheer number of parts and pieces needed to keep those engines operational. Every engine runs a carburetor, and engines use varying numbers of different/highly-specifically tuned carburetors, all dependent on the demands of the race, the track, and the performance-output sought by the driver, the crew chief, and the team. With a simple revision of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rulebook, race teams will suddenly find themselves with an excessive amount of worthless equipment. As other divisions shift to new technologies on the heels of those Cup changes, the “aftermarket” audience for out-of-date and out-of-use carburetors will cease to exist; instead, many tens of thousands of dollars will sit on storeroom shelves as “what is” quickly becomes “what was”.
Not that the conversion over to electronic fuel injection will be cheap. Some early estimates have these McLaren-built (as in Formula One) systems costing as much as $26,000 per car, but then rumors travel fast and deep across NASCAR Nation. As Robin Pemberton alluded to during a press conference last week at the Kentucky test sessions, such a change involves “upfront costs”. How severe these “upfront costs” will be has yet to be seen, but race teams will certainly have to pay-to-play if they hope to compete in 2012.
As sponsorship continues to be scarce, I’m reminded of the late Neil Bonnett and his observation regarding the inherent nature of racing in NASCAR: “How fast can you afford to go?” To paraphrase NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson: “The best way to make a small fortune in racing is to start with a big one.” Emerging technology is always costly, even if it makes fans happy by putting Sprint Cup cars one tiny step closer to the machines we see on our streets and highways every day.
The correlation here relates back to NASCAR’s emphasis on what they call “cost containment…” or in this case, lack thereof. Yes, in NASCAR, there is – realistically, if a team hopes to run well on a consistent basis – no such thing. When asked about the lifespan of McLaren’s Electronic Control Units (ECUs) for Sprint Cup engines, John Darby said that a Cup team “could feasibly race 38 [events] with two race cars, excluding damage.” Race teams could, therefore, swap out their ECUs from car-to-car as needed. Such was NASCAR’s argument in favor of the CoT.
Yet The idea behind the CoT was that the car’s standardized design and construction would render multi-car stables of eighteen or twenty Cup machines obsolete. Even the smallest (as in least-funded) operation could compete each week over the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule with – on paper, and in theory, at least – as few as two of the new cars: one for oval tracks and perhaps one for road courses (which call for a fuel dry-break/filler tube on the right side). Given the damage from a wreck on any given weekend, a Cup team might keep a third car as a replacement, but even this additional cost might be considered excessive.
The COT was intended to keep costs under control, but the theory behind the new car was unrealistic. Walk into any Sprint Cup race shop today, and you’ll see the same old “fleet” of race cars; the number of cars may be reduced by a few, but any team running for a place in the Chase will still be maintaining a stable of Cup cars well up in the double digits. As such, any switch in equipment or technology will require a wholesale swap from the “old” to the “new”. Since Sprint Cup teams run with a large inventory of cars and parts, moving to electronic fuel injection will be a significant change involving both time and money.
But finances aside, the move to electronic fuel injection won’t be a major evolutionary step for NASCAR. Allow me to whip out my double-edged sword, as I’ll even go one step further: the switch from carburetion to fuel injection might just prove to be one of those watershed moments in NASCAR’s history. This technological transition might rank right up there with other equipment adaptations, like the inclusion of power “assisted” steering and power brakes. Might electronic fuel injection be regarded someday as one of those developments that forever changes the nature of competition, as was the case when inner-liner, “safety” tires were developed many years ago? It’s impossible to say now, but could the transition to EFI in 2012 offer more benefits over the long run than we ever thought were possible during the era of carburetion?
One of the selling points for electronic fuel injection is the environmental angle: the notion that fuel injection saves gasoline by controlling usage and reducing waste. Fuel injection lets engines burn only the amount of gasoline they require, without the excess build-up that ignites inside exhaust headers and results in the bursts of fire often seen when the cars exit the corners on short tracks. This “environmentally-friendly” approach is another way that NASCAR has been thinking globally while acting locally. The same is true for the new dry break/vented fueling system that’s been in place since the start of the 2011 season; while eliminating the need for a catch-can crewman, the new system also reduces fuel spillage and evaporation. This development in a “greener” approach to racing is another market-driven pressure that NASCAR has had to consider. If the sport wants to attract younger fans (especially that pesky, hard-to-catch “twenty-something” audience), swapping green flags for “green” technology is essential.
We know that electronic fuel injection saves a bit of gasoline, we know it allows race cars to run a bit cleaner, we know that this technology puts Cup cars a tad closer to the machines we drive each day… but we also know that EFI will enable Sprint Cup engines to run longer, and with fewer race-ending failures, because of their increased (and computer-controlled) efficiency. Engines have been getting stronger and more durable for years now, but might the advent of EFI allow Cup motors to run harder and longer and, in a very small way, actually cost race teams less money over the course of a season? Any cost-cutting measure is a good one, so long as higher performance isn’t lost in search of higher savings. NASCAR administration needs to remember that it’s all about the fans, and fans are all about the racing.
But winning widespread fan approval is only one aspect of the electronic fuel injection conversion. Yet another aspect seems deeply rooted in NASCAR’s need to maintain control over its race teams and the overall ebb-and-flow of competition. Because the injection systems to be used are controlled by computers, it will be simpler for teams to keep an eye on the performance of their engines; individual cylinders can be “tweaked” so as to provide the best/most appropriate amounts of fuel necessary to maximize horsepower and efficiency. This flexibility comes, however, with what might be seen as a less-than-optimal fringe benefit – one that puts competition squarely in the hands of NASCAR officials and administration. It may not seem very realistic, but what in the world of NASCAR ever truly is?
The computerized nature of this new fuel injection technology allows for an even-more “transparent” competitive culture within the Sprint Cup Series. In the words of NASCAR’s John Darby, at the Kentucky Speedway test session’s press conference: “The one advantage, I guess, or the one additional feature to all of the fuel injection components is there’s obviously the ability to log and record everything that happens during the process of today…. we don’t have to stand over their [the Cup teams’] shoulder to watch anything. We can walk in tonight, hook up, [and] walk off with what we need to look at.”
While Darby’s comments in Kentucky were in regard to gathering data collected during that day’s test runs, one can only presume that the sanctioning body has the ability to gather and regulate fuel injection criteria before and after races, as well. Will mandated use of fuel injection provide NASCAR with a new way to govern its competitors, limiting the sizes of nozzles used and electronically “snooping” into the amounts of fuel being atomized and shot into race engine cylinders? If NASCAR can download fuel injection data, what’s to say that the sanctioning body can’t also upload said data in an attempt to control race day performance? It’s already fairly apparent that restrictor plates will go the way of the carburetor next year, but will the attitude of “Boys, have at it” be the mantra of fuel injection in 2012? As we’ve seen over the decades, if there’s something to monitor, govern, and/or control, NASCAR will give it its best shot.
Electronic fuel injection allows NASCAR to do all three…
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Put the “Stock” back in the series and make them run off the shelf OEM fuel injection set ups. While were at it make them run stock off the shelf current production OEM V8’s blocks with all the mods they can stuff in them.
This development is just one more thing to talk about. That’s all it is, and all it ever will be. I see no reason why they have to switch over to EFI. No reason what-so-ever. NASCAR claims they want to make the sport as modern as possible, and make the cars look like an average car you’d see on the public roads. I just don’t understand why they have to always be changing something. What they have is fine, leave it the way it is. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I don’t know how much it will cost to make the conversion, but it has to be more than the teams would like to spend, especially the underfunded ones.
I am extremely happy about this switch. I’m pro-EFI and always have been. I would much rather sit in the driver’s seat and fiddle with my laptop to control the engine. Its better than fiddling with screwdrivers and get gasoline all over my hands and clothes while changing jets again.
@Kevin, different type of efi, they are using tbi for break-in of engines and the new ones are port injection with different heads. If NASCAR wants to control the EFI why don’t they just issue an EFI computer box at the track like they used to with the wing?
Well we can certainly tell your not a fan of true racing, Kevin. Getting grease on your hands and getting dirty is what it’s all about. Go watch some tennis… that’s clean.
First it was going to be the Throttle Body Injection instead of EFI and running some fuel injected races in the 2010 season with the 2011 being a full season of fuel injection. Now they’ve changed to EFI and are testing fuel injection in the 2011 season with no real word on when they’ll hold an actual race with fuel injection. So don’t hold your breath on seeing any type of fuel injection racing in NASCAR anytime soon.
If anybody has bothered to look at an F1 race, where they use Fuel injection and ECU’s made by McLaren, you still see some fire out the exhaust. AND, you also see teams playing some VERY EXOTIC games with engine mapping,even with a standard ECU.