NASCAR Switches to Biofuel Blend


"New 15%-ethanol fuel could give drivers more horsepower."

NASCAR teams shouldn't have much trouble with the conversion from unleaded fuel to the ethanol blend they will use next season, team managers and engine specialists say.

The new fuel, which is 15% ethanol, could give drivers more horsepower but will burn quicker, possibly cutting slightly into fuel mileage and requiring more green-flag pit stops.

"The fuel mileage is going to change a little bit, but it's going to change for everybody across the board," Joe Gibbs Racing Vice President of Racing Operations Jimmy Makar said. "The biggest thing is the chemical properties and making sure we have the compatibility with different components in the engine or the fuel system itself."

So far, teams that have tested the Sunoco ethanol-based fuel believe that it is compatible with current engine parts and that there shouldn't be many parts that become obsolete.

Richard Childress Racing used the fuel at a recent tire test at Richmond.

"There were no issues with it at all," said Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines trackside manager Danny Lawrence. "It makes a little bit more power, but we did use a little bit more."

Lawrence said ECR already has six 55-gallon drums of the fuel to use for testing. He said it smells slightly different and leaves a slight white residue.

One of the biggest issues is that the ethanol has a tendency to attract water, meaning that teams will have to be especially careful in humid conditions.

"It's just really easy to get it in there because it attracts it, but it won't be a big deal," Lawrence said. "Once we get all the right containers and all, it won't be a problem."

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