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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fuel Injection is Right Around the Corner

NASCAR announced in February that the Sprint Cup series would be going to electronic fuel injection as of Daytona in February 2012. In anticipation of that change the series is conducting several testing sessions for teams to wrap their arms around the new technology. The latest of those sessions was Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway with teams from Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart Haas Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush Fenway Racing all participating. During the session Doug Yates from Roush Yates Racing Engines took part in a briefing for the media along with Steve Nelson from Freescale Semiconductor and John Darby from NASCAR. Nelson gave an overview of Freescale while Yates discussed some of the intricacies of fuel injection while Darby answered general questions about NASCAR items. Whether the switch to EFI is timely or not, there is no question that the Cup series will be running it in 2012.

Nelson gave an overview of the Engine Control Unit (ECU) that will be deployed in the top series of NASCAR. It is officially named the TAG400N. It was developed to control an eight-cylinder engine and a version of it has been employed by the Indy Racing League since 2007. There are several key features that the TAG400N provides that made it attractive to NASCAR for deployment as part of the fuel injection push.

1) Control of a V8 normally aspirated engine – fuelling and ignition over full engine operating range.
2) Absolute security against illegal software or tampering using “box-locking” methods developed and fine-tuned for over 15 years in Formula 1
3) Secure NASCAR application inside the unit for enhanced analysis and performance monitoring.
4) On-board data logging of prescribed primary parameters for NASCAR
5) Team data logging, if and when permitted by NASCAR

The ECU that is going to be employed by NASCAR has LEDs to confirm that all systems are functioning correctly and to flag any detected faults. The McLaren chip never had a reported failure in its entire tenure in Formula 1. The chip that will be used in NASCAR is the exact same chip that is currently utilized by passenger cars in America.

Doug Yates then spoke on the 10 things that people need to know about Fuel Injection in NASCAR in 2012

*Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Electronic Fuel Injection in NASCAR – 2012
*

*(1) RELEVANCE*

This is an investment for the future. NASCAR race engines
will be more aligned with fuel systems of engines available
in manufacturer showrooms/dealerships across the U.S.
Freescale is helping put the “stock” back into stock car racing

• More like what everyone drives daily – a similar fuel
system technology platform
• Freescale semiconductors are in most passenger cars!
• The NASCAR EFI system is built for a rugged
environment with high temperatures
• EFI NASCAR engines will be similar to production cars
in achieving and managing fuel economy

*(2) KEY WORDS and PHRASES*

• EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection)
• ECU (Engine Control Unit)
• Freescale (Manufacturer of the semiconductor inside the
ECU of all NASCAR Sprint Cup engines. Manages
literally thousands of decisions each second)
• McLaren (Manufacturer of the ECU system for all
NASCAR Sprint Cup engines)
• MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure)
• O2 Sensor (Oxygen Sensor)
• TPS (Throttle Position Sensor)

*(3) BEST OF BOTH WORLDS*

The most highly refined V8 push rod engines in the world
at the highest level of competition will take NASCAR
engine technology to a new level with EFI

• Q: How will the engine sound?

• Q: How will the performance capabilities change?

A: YOU WILL SEE AND HEAR VIRTUALLY NO
DIFFERENCE

*(4) SYSTEM*

• Intake manifold rules will remain the same
• Carburetor gone
• Distributor gone
• Fuel injectors – One for each cylinder – electronically
controlled
• Reliability – HIGH – McLaren/Freescale ECU systems
have never had a previous on-track failure in any series
where the system has been employed

*(5) CONTROLS*

• Increased diagnostic abilities
• Controls engine fueling and ignition timing through the
ECU (past was distributor and carburetor interaction)
• NASCAR can police these systems closely with data
from the ECU (NASCAR can plug in and spot check at
any time)

*(6) FUEL ECONOMY*

• Better control of fuel management and engine electronic
timing (of the fuel/spark relationship)
• Reduces waste of fuel
• Engine runs more efficiently
• Burns greener and cleaner
• Reduction and possible elimination of exhaust pipe
flames when driver comes off throttle going through
corners
• Less carbon monoxide emissions

*(7) AT-TRACK TUNING*

• Team engine tuners will be trading in traditional
carburetor and timing adjustment tools for a standard
laptop/PC
• Teams can adjust on their engines virtually up until start
of race
• Teams will not have access to live telemetry

*(8) DATA/ACCESS*

• Fan View capable (NASCAR could show this data to
millions of viewers LIVE during broadcasts)
• Similar data can be applied to NASCAR racing video
game engine setups
• Engine “tune” cannot be changed during competition

*(9) DURABILITY*

• Expected increased longevity of engine because we
have more precise control of fuel and spark
• With a much more controlled system, and with greater
access to data, engine builders will be able push the
limits of performance

*(10) JUST THE BEGINNING*

• EFI will allow teams and engine builders to continue to
investigate and discover:

• Future technological system upgrades relative to EFI
• Possible new or different types of fuels that can be
used

Jeff Burton stopped in after his test session to share his thoughts with the media. He emphasized to the assembled masses that this is a learning process and the teams and NASCAR are all learning about this system and there are a multitude of things to be garnered during the next few test sessions. “Today was about learning about this system and how it works,” Burton said. “I knew nothing about how this worked when I showed up today and we all learned a lot about it. I’m going to have several things to go home and digest and then bring back my opinions to Robin (Pemberton).”

Robin Pemberton touched base on what the focus of these tests is from a NASCAR perspective. “Cars can go out and run individual laps and we might learn a little but we really need to start learning what these things will do when they start racing around other cars,” said Pemberton. “Right now the teams are learning about the system and how it works. When we set out to do this test we chose from all of the different types of tracks so we could see how it reacts on a short track, an intermediate and a superspeedway. Next week we’ll start to see how these cars are going to react around each other. We’re learning more after every test and we’ll continue to learn right up to Daytona. We aren’t going to make any decisions about what we allow the teams until we’re much closer to Daytona.”

Burton was thankful to hear NASCAR doesn’t have any preconceived ideas about how this is going to work yet. “We all have a bunch of stuff to learn and I’d hate to think that NASCAR already had their mind made up this early in the process about what they’re going to let us do. We’re going to be exchanging a lot of information in the coming weeks and I’d hope they’d listen to that before they make any decisions.”

Testing speeds really don’t reflect anything at this point in time but they were provided by NASCAR at the end of the session so here they are:

1) 6 – Stenhouse/Bayne 28.462 – 189.793
2) 24 – Gordon – 28.620 – 188.679
3) 5 – Kahne – 28.707 – 188.107
4) 48 – Jimmie Johnson – 28.767 – 187.715
5) 42 – Montoya – 28.847 – 187.195
6) 56 – Truex Jr. – 28. 895 – 186.884
7) 31 – Burton – 28.923 – 186.703
8) 39 – Newman – 28.995 – 186.239
9) 88 – Earnhardt Jr. – 29.011 – 186.136
10) 14 – Stewart – 29.029 – 186.021
11) 20 – Logano – 29.056 – 185.848