Fuel injection opens a wealth of possibilities to competitors: Simply put, NASCAR's move to electronic fuel injection hasn't gotten the press it deserves. There have been more pressing concerns. The sanctioning body and Sprint Cup teams were so focused on rule changes designed to break up sustained two-car drafts during mid-January tests at Daytona International Speedway that the impending competitive debut of EFI went virtually unnoticed. Nevertheless, the introduction of EFI represents a profound change that goes far beyond bringing Cup racecars closer to models found in the showroom. Here are the basics:
* The fuel delivery system is fundamentally different. Injectors shoot fuel into each individual cylinder, as they are programmed to do by computer. Instead of a carburetor that mixes air and fuel, a throttle body provides airflow to the engine. As Sprint Cup series director John Darby put it during a meeting with reporters Monday at NASCAR's research-and-development center, "The engine architecture is the same. We're squirting it (fuel), instead of sucking it."
* There are more parts and pieces. To run the EFI system, NASCAR has contracted with McLaren to provide an electronic control unit, powered by a microprocessor from Freescale. An array of sensors provides performance data to the ECU, which is mounted on the engine. With a few keystrokes on a laptop computer, engine tuners can construct an ignition timing map that will regulate fuel flow to the cylinders based on input from the sensors.
The implications for Cup racing are far-reaching. Teams can plug into the ECU post-race and use the after-the-fact telemetry to make performance decisions. Traditionally, NASCAR has taken a firm stance against real-time data acquisition, and that won't change.
But teams will be allowed to download data after practice and qualifying and make adjustments to the EFI system. What they won't be able to do, however, is read data during a race, and -- realizing that fuel mileage may determine the outcome, for example -- reset their systems to a mapping more conducive to fuel conservation.
Accordingly, plugging into the EFI system adds an additional layer to NASCAR's inspection process. Before a race, the ECUs will be "locked" to one configuration for the duration. After the event, NASCAR will inspect the top five and random cars.
In keeping with its tradition of an open garage, NASCAR will also collect data and share it among the teams. But when Roush Fenway Racing, for example, sees information from a Hendrick Motorsports ECU, it will be broad-brush data rather than examination of minutiae.
In other words, RFR won't be able to compare where Carl Edwards lifts on corner entry as opposed to Jimmie Johnson. Each team will have specific information about its own cars but much more general data about its competitors. Nevertheless, the information should prove useful, particularly, as Darby says, "to get the little guys up to speed quicker."
Before its debut at Daytona, EFI has been tested extensively. Based on those tests, and on a critical mass of issues that have surfaced in a chat room established by McLaren, there have been approximately eight software revisions since NASCAR began testing the system.
Though McLaren has a history in Formula One and other forms of racing, the company had never dealt with a NASCAR engine, which Darby characterized as "the biggest, most bad-ass thing in motorsports, other than drag racing." McLaren has never had a competition failure with one of its ECUs, but neither has the company dealt with a racing series that puts as much stress on its engines. "If it's going to fail, we're going to fail it -- I guarantee you that," Darby said.
Though there has been much discussion of fuel economy with the switch to EFI, the consensus is that savings will be negligible. Nevertheless, EFI will allow tuners to achieve a higher level of efficiency in their fuel-saving measures.
One thing won't change: the inverse relationship between fuel economy and horsepower. To save gas, you have to give up power under the hood. But EFI, particularly as teams become more familiar with its nuances, will allow the engine to be tuned to a particular competitor's driving style, thereby enhancing the performance of both man and machine.
Restirctor Plates: NASCAR will require EFI engines to use a restrictor plate at the sport’s two longest and fastest tracks: Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway.
The plate will be placed beneath the Holley EFI throttle body and limit the amount of air made available to the engine. Unlike carbureted engines, Sunoco Green E15 will not pass through the restrictor plate openings. See a graphic on electronic fuel injection here (pdf).(NASCAR Wire Service)(2-8-2012)
NASCAR's Pemberton and Darby discuss fuel injection testing: Transcript: Robin Pemberton And John Darby From Testing Session At Kentucky Speedway.
KERRY THARP: With this being kind of a special weekend here at Kentucky Speedway, the first time that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been on track, obviously we're having an extensive test session today here, we thought that it would be a good thing to bring in Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, and John Darby, who is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director.
At this time I'll just turn it over to Robin. Just a couple of general comments about the test session, coming here to Kentucky Speedway, and some of the feedback you're getting back from the race teams as they get set up for Saturday night's inaugural Quaker State 400.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Things are moving along smooth, as you would expect. I think there's a lot of teams that have been up here over the last decade or so testing when it was a place that you could test. But we're getting good feedback. Tires are good. Grip level seems to be adequate. Surface seems to be doing what it needs to do. We've got an extra five cars on the ground that are doing the fuel injection test today. The feedback from all of those is everything's going according to plan. Other than the fact we're here a day early and we have half a day on the ground running laps, everything seems to be as normal as it can be. We're having a good time and things are going well.
KERRY THARP: John, how important is it for the teams to be here and get these laps logged in order to be here for Saturday night's race?
JOHN DARBY: Well, Robin alluded to the fact that most of the Cup competitors have logged thousands of laps up here, which kind of gives them a little bit of a heads up about a brand-new facility to go compete at.
At the same time, as everybody knows, through seasons tracks age, surfaces change, just the general layout of the land, the garage areas and everything else is constantly changing. So it made a lot of sense to come up for some time, the teams to get really acclimated with everything here at Kentucky Speedway in an effort to be able to put on the best race we can on Saturday night.
KERRY THARP: We'll take some questions for Robin and John.
Q. Robin, what else has to happen with fuel injection before next season? What about more tests scheduled?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: You know, we'll see what the racetrack has planned. We think they've done a great job here with the facility over the past few years getting things updated, getting enough seats in to hold the capacity crowd here. I understand they're sold out and it will be standing room only. We're all looking forward to that.
For the rest of the year, we have a test scheduled at Phoenix that will be a tire confirmation test later in the year. That's about all we have on the schedule for right now.
We do have some repaves that are on the books for next year and the year after. So we're still working on the schedules for all of those.
Q. But you're satisfied the fuel injection process is going, how it's working so far?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Absolutely. You have to remember, as far as the fuel injection goes, many of the teams have been testing a form of fuel injection over the past two years, two and a half years anyways. A lot of our engine builders out in the field, they do build engines for other forms, other leagues. They do have experience with that. All the input that we're getting, all the feedback is things are seamless right now.
Q. Robin, with the fuel injection, the drivers, they're really not going to be able to feel a difference, the fans aren't going to be able to see a difference, right? Isn't it really about making the car more relevant to what they're selling on their street models?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: I will say this: we wouldn't have done it if it would have been worse for us. This will be the same or better. We feel like our competition is the best that it's ever been. We'll put it up against anybody. This is just one more thing that we've tackled in the last year or so moving forward that will be more relevant out there.
Q. I don't think I've seen as many engineers at a news conference you have held forever. Talk about the competitive side of fuel injection, the competition side of it as the teams race to get it underhand. Also, talk about the cost of it. Is it true that it's up to $26,000 per car for fuel injection?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: You've been talking to car owners or engineers but not both at the same time.
We knew there would be some added cost to this. There's always upfront costs. Anytime you have a rule change, there's upfront costs. It's something we need to do. We need to do it for our sport, for our competition, and to be relevant out there. We knew this moving forward when we decided to take this on. Everybody knew the challenges. That's why the timeline was as long as it has been.
The easy part is, you know, anybody can do fuel injection, but to do it the way we've done it with our partners, with McLaren, all the manufacturers, Ford, General Motors, Toyota and Dodge, to keep a level playing field, that's the most important thing. Because at the end of the day it's about having a level playing field and our outstanding racing we've been able to put on. That's what's important to us.
Q. Can you talk about them working together rather than competing?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Everybody works together in the early stages on any project. Today's probably the stake in the ground where everybody goes off and does their own thing. I'm speaking for them. They're all in the room. You should circle up with them and get their opinions.
But in my opinion right now I think everybody feels comfortable. There's a few little things we've got to get buttoned up, but they're minor details. I think today, it's a line in the sand, and we'll move forward from here and let the competition begin.
Q. As far as the fuel injection goes, are you asking the teams to do anything specific today or are you talking to them about anything specific, or is it pretty much they're testing and you're not all that involved?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: We're just getting their feedback. I mean, we're not telling them what to do. I would say that it's pretty broad right now what they can do. They're off experimenting with whatever they need to.
John would answer that question a lot better than I would in some of those areas.
But, really, it's about the teams, it's about the manufacturers, it's about the hardware, the software, and everybody out there competing right now.
KERRY THARP: John, you want to expound on that at all.
JOHN DARBY: You hate to just say it's as simple as logging laps. But really it's proving all the individual systems out. If you look at the whole package, right, fuel injection is way, way simpler than a carburetor from the design, all the moving little parts and functions that a carburetor does, to be replaced by an electronic module and eight injectors, it wasn't that it moved into a higher degree of difficulty, a lot more technology, but not difficulty.
Knowing after all the years of tuning and development they did on the carburetors, the teams know where the engines are optimized in regards to air/fuel ratios and everything.
Today it's a matter of working with their different maps, their tuning pages, their laptops, if you will, to get back to that point of optimization that they had with the package we're running now.
There's a lot of energy being spent in that direction. It's about looking at fuel pumps. It's about looking at different sensors. It's taking a lot of temperature readings from under the hood, inside the car, every place that there are components now that can fail because of heat, and doing everything they can do to ready themselves to be able to have all of those components survive and function properly through a 500-mile event as we head towards 2012.
Q. Is NASCAR plugging into the fuel injection cars today to see what they're doing?
JOHN DARBY: Absolutely. 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.
So, no, we don't have to stand over their shoulder to watch anything. We can walk in tonight, hook up, walk off with what we need to look at. But the team also have that same ability, too.
Q. This is a practical question about the fuel injection. The module that the teams have to put in there, do they need like one for every engine? Does it last the life of the engine? How many will they need for each car or team or whatever?
JOHN DARBY: What we know is McLaren has brought to the table a piece that's very reliable, has a pretty good lifespan. So in its simplest term, right, you could buy one ECU and every week transfer it from car to car to car. What we know from experience, specifically Cup teams, they don't do that. You could feasibly race 38 races with two racecars, excluding damage, right? But you don't do that.
How many will you need? That's a very flexible question because obviously somebody like Roush-Yates engines that has close to 200 engines in service might need a few more pieces than a Penske operation that's only supporting two cars.
The fact of the matter is, yes, you could take one unit and continue to work with it weekly. But the habits that the Cup teams have, I don't see that happening.
Q. A bit embarrassed to ask this question with all the brilliant engineers here. When there's no carburetor, there will be no restrictor plate next year or you'll be able to electronically control what you do now? How will that change plate racing as we know it?
JOHN DARBY: The easiest and most economical way for us to accurately and across the board in fairness control or restrict the horsepower of the engine is with the amount of air that's introduced into it, okay? So we'll continue to do it that way.
Will it be in the form of what we know today's restrictor plate? Maybe, maybe not. We're looking at some other things. We more than likely won't go down the path of trying to restrict the engines through electronics because we have a much higher comfort level doing it in a mechanical way. It's the same for every engine that's on the racetrack type of fashion, which will be through some sort of an air restriction.
Q. Why is now the right time? Why is 2012 the right time to institute this technology as opposed to five, six, ten years ago?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: I think there's a comfort level with the manufacturers that we're dealing with today, the suppliers being McLaren. Also when you go back five or ten years ago, I think the architecture on the engines was quite different between all manufacturers. I think to keep the level playing field was going to be very difficult for us.
I think with everybody having new engines onboard, all manufacturers, and the work that we've done in the last three or four years on that to get the horsepower where it needs to be, where it's level and fair, now with the fuel injection, it's an easier transition for us.
JOHN DARBY: This is our first year in competition that we've had all four manufacturers competing with the engine architecture that was prescribed five years ago. You build the foundation of the house first, right? Now we've finally gotten to the point where the engine architecture is where we want it. It's much easier to advance to the next level of engine now.
KERRY THARP: Before we adjourn, I'd like to recognize some special guests. Thanks to our partners here today, representatives from GM, representatives from Dodge, Ford, Toyota and TRD are with us on the manufacturers' side. Representatives with us on the exciting new venture of fuel injection are here from Holley, Freescale and McLaren. We appreciate all you men and women being here and all you do for our sport.
Ford Racing Injected Testing: After decades of relying on now-out-of-date carburetor systems to deliver fuel to its engines, NASCAR is moving forward to fuel injection for the 2012 Sprint Cup season. One of the biggest steps in that advance occurred Thursday as five Sprint Cup teams ran tests with the electronic fuel injection systems at Kentucky Speedway. Fuel injection has been standard in most street vehicles since the 1980s, but NASCAR has been reluctant to move away from the carburetors that have been in place since the sport's beginnings.
A Roush Fenway Racing Ford, driven most of the day by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and for a few laps by Greg Biffle, produced the fastest lap—176.171—of the five EFI-equipped cars. Other fuel-injection cars participating in the tests were Chevrolets driven by Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola, a Toyota driven by Mike Skinner and a Dodge driven by Sam Hornish Jr.
While Ford race engine engineer Dave Simon said he was pleased with the day's test runs, he said the fact that Stenhouse Jr. posted the session's best EFI speeds isn't significant. "Everybody's running a development car from a chassis standpoint and a suspension standpoint," he said. "Who knows what's on these cars. Everybody's using these cars to try different things, so I wouldn't read too much into the lap times." Skinner was second to Stenhouse Jr. at 173.717.
During the day, team and manufacturer officials and NASCAR officials monitored the EFI results. The cars were equipped with telemetry and computers to make information collection easy. The cars ran as part of two long testing/practice sessions along with standard Sprint Cup cars preparing for Saturday night's Quaker State 400, the first Sprint Cup race in the track's history.
"We had a test plan coming in, and we were able to move through the test plan without any issues," said Simon. "We did a lot of testing on the dyno. We pretty much knew what to expect. It's been a positive day. There haven't been any unexpected issues due to fuel injection." Simon said Thursday's drivers didn't notice any on-track difference with the new systems.
"I think from a racing standpoint the competition is going to be the same," he said. "There will be big changes for us on how we tune at the track and how you prepare for each race. There are more knobs you have to turn and more work you have to do as far as calibration is concerned. Behind the scenes, it's big. On the track, you really won't notice a difference." Simon said the Ford team had run experimental laps with the fuel injection system at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham.(Ford Racing)(7-8-2011)
SHORT Q&A WITH JEFF ANDREWS, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS DIRECTOR OF ENGINE OPERATIONS REGARDING ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION TEST FOR NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY:
IS THIS FIRST TEST ON A NASCAR-SANCTIONED RACETRACK ABOUT WHAT YOU EXPECTED?
“I think so. I think we have about six outings so far. We’ve been just working with some tuning issues which we would think would be typical for this car and this track and kind of our first experience about throttle tip-in and drivability and some things. We made some changes during the break to try some different packages and go forward. So everything so far has been really smooth.”
EXPLAIN WHAT THE DRIVER DOES TO HELP DURING THE TEST AND HOW YOU ADJUST FUEL INJECTION FOR HIS DRIVING STYLE
‘What we’re working through is a feel of years of experience from drivers from a carburetor. Be it good or bad, be it some inherent things there with the carburetor that when you work with them for 30 years in this type of racing that you get pretty good at it; and the driver gets a feel that he likes with it. And the carburetor is kind of tuned to his liking. When you get here with fuel injection and you start working within the fuel injection system to where you actually have a fuel cut-off so to speak, under partial throttle conditions; and do when you turn that back on and how much fuel do you put in the engine when you turn that back on; just getting used to those perimeters and the sensitivity of it and running through different fuel maps during this test to get the driver’s feedback. What we’re trying to come away with here today is just a baseline of a good test. We’ve got a matrix of things to go through. Whether the change is good or bad, we just want to know that the direction we went had an impact and then we can sit down and talk about future testing plans.”
DO YOU ADJUST THE EFI TO WORK WITH EACH DRIVER’S STYLE?
“We’re working here today with Aric Almirola from the Nationwide Series. We’re using Aric because we’re familiar with his feedback from being involved with him in the engine program on the NNS side with JR Motorsports. Again, we just tried to start with a very basic set-up for him, fuel-wise and drivability-wise, and we made some minor changes and some that were very aggressive. We’re just trying to get a feel of the sensitivity. If it were Jimmie Johnson, would that change significantly? Sure. That’s very possible that he would have a different opinion than Aric would. But really, we’re not really interested at this point in having say four or six individual tune-ups so to speak, per driver. We’re just working with the system, for really the first time in an at-track environment and trying to understand. It’s like we’ve got this new toy, right; and we’ve got 100 knobs here to turn, so which ones are the sensitive ones? And when we come back, I’m sure we’ll do things differently. There’s always got to be a first time and we’re just trying to work through a consistent matrix here of tests.”
DOES THIS REQUIRE DIFFERENT EQUIPMENT, LIKE LAPTOPS, TO MANAGE AT THE TRACK; AND IS IT COMPLICATED?
“I don’t know that it’s complicated. It’s a change. It’s a great progression in technology for our sport. We welcome it. We’re excited about the challenge of going from a carbureted environment to where you come in here and you read the weather and look at the track conditions and you make changes to your carburetor and your ignition timing based on the way the weather is. Obviously with the fuel injection systems that have been supplied, that’s going to do that for you now automatically in terms of making the changes based on the water temp and the barometric pressure and different things. What we will input into it via our laptops say on Sunday morning or say for example a qualifying versus a race set-up is different fuel trims and different spark trims for a qualifying application versus a different mapping procedure for the race.”
WHAT CAN THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP FANS EXPECT TO SEE WITH THE IMPLEMENTATION OF FUEL INJECTION?
“From the fans side, they will not notice anything different. Maybe one of the biggest things that a fan would notice is a lot of times you get a lot of questions like, ‘What’s that big blue flame coming out of the right side of the car when the driver gets off the throttle or goes into the corner at Martinsville?’ That’s just fuel that has spilled out of the carburetor and gone through the engine in an off-throttle condition and is being burned out the exhaust pipe. You won’t see that any more. They’ll be some good efficiency gains that are being made there with this fuel system in terms of fuel economy. But in terms of performance, the power levels between a carbureted and a fuel-injected engine are very close; so you won’t see a dramatic increase in lap times. The car is still going to sound the same. It’s still a Chevrolet R07 fuel-injected racing engine and they’ll be no difference there for the fan.”
WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN A HOT DOG WRAPPER GETS STUCK ON THE GRILL DURING A RACE?
“One of the things about this system is that it does have the capability as water temperatures start going up, say for example from a hot dog wrapper on the grill, the system can start to enrich the motor based on that temperature increase and maybe buy you a few more laps of protection. It’s definitely not going to do anything to take the away the situation that might occur, but there are some protective systems in place that might help the engine get through the race.”
THIS IS A PRETTY BIG CHANGE FOR THE SPORT
“Oh, yes; we’re all excited. We’re excited about the technology. Our partners at Chevrolet have been a tremendous help to us in guiding us through this and helping us make this first step. So what we hope is that this is a good tool. It brings our level of racing closer to the level of technology that exists within our manufacturer at GM and Chevrolet.”(Team Chevy), see the full transcript on my Fuel Injection News page.(7-8-2011)
SHORT Q & A WITH DR. ANDREW L. RANDOLPH, ECR ENGINE TECHNICAL DIRECTOR REGARDING TESTING OF ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION FOR NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT KENTUCKY SPEEDWAY:
YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW THE TEST FOR THE ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION (EFI) IS GOING FOR THE FIRST TIME ON A NASCAR SANCTIONED TRACK: “It is going very well. We are setting the transient characteristics of the engine. That is how it works when you get into the throttle and out of the throttle because that is where fueling becomes a challenge is when you’re having rapid changes in the throttle position. That is what we are spending most of our time working on is the calibration for when they are letting off the throttle and getting on the throttle.”
HOW MANY SENSORS ARE THERE GIVING YOU THE READINGS FROM THE TESTING? “There is many sensors on this vehicle. Compared to a carbureted engine, there are in race, there will be an additional eight to 10 sensors, but for testing here, we have more than that. We have double that probably.”
THE DATA ARE YOU ARE GETTING TODAY, DO YOU USE IT RIGHT AWAY TO CONTINUE THROUGH THE TEST OR TAKE MOST OF IT BACK TO CONTINE TO ANALYZE AND WORK WITH IT? “Both. We record data in such a way that we can go back and replay exactly what the engine saw here on the track. We can replay that on the dynamometer in a laboratory setting. We can replicate everything we are doing here in the lab with better sensors and better repeatability so we can look in depth at exactly what we saw that we think we can improve on.”
NASCAR’S GOAL IS TO HAVE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD WITH THE EFI, WHAT LATITUDE DO YOU HAVE CONTINUE TO LOOK FOR MORE HORSEPOWER? “We are actually quite happy with the system because it has considerable room for invention; for science. Certainly there is room for people to do it better than other people. We would like to think that whenever we have an opportunity to excel, then that is what we will do.”
WE HAVE TO STEP OUT OF THE CARBURETOR BOX AT SOME POINT, BUT ARE THE COSTS SOMEWHAT OF A CONCERN WITH THE EFI PROGRAM? “You can look at costs in two ways. You can look at the dollars that it costs to implement the technology. But then you also have to look at the benefits that you derive from it and make a value judgment on whether it is a good thing or a bad thing to do. We are certainly in full support of it being a good thing to. It adds technical relevance to these engines compared to what is production on the street now. Every small block engine that is on the street is fuel injected and these are going to be fuel injected small blocks as well.”
SO IT PORTED FOR FUEL INJECTED LIKE A CHEVY ON THE STREET? “Yes, just like a Corvette. Port fuel injection is what all small blocks on the road in passenger cars are and that is what this is going to be. So it adds more technical relevance to what we do for the manufacturer. It improves the fuel efficiency of these engines and reduces emissions.”
DO YOU THINK THIS ADDS MORE MARKETABILITY AND MORE WIDELY APPEALING TO FANS? “It certainly makes it a lot closer to the production. They are called stock cars and it makes them a lot closer to what is stock and the engines that are sold. From that standpoint, there are probably are some people that will relate to it a little more.”
TALK ABOUT THE NEW EQUIPMENT YOU WILL BE USING FOR EFI: “It’s really interesting. Historically, we always have one engine tuner that goes with each engine with every car to all of the races. And that engine tuner, his talent or his skill, is to take feedback from a driver and convert that into a mechanical change that he might make to the engine to make it better. Now what we are having to do is take feedback from a driver and convert that to a software change on a laptop that then gets put into the engine to address whatever concern or whatever area the driver feels like can be improved. It’s really an upgrading of the skill sets and it is a kind of different approach to each weekend when you are at the track. How to get the most out of what we have.”
THE DRIVER WILL FEEL A DIFFERENCE? “Oh certainly and that is what we are doing today. It’s not necessarily clear looking at data on a screen what is good and what is bad, so, we have different drivers driving the car giving us their subjective feel of ‘yea, I really like that’ or ‘I don’t’.”
SO IT WILL BE DIFFERENT FOR EVERY DRIVER BASED ON THEIR STYLE OF DRIVING? “Yes, there will be. In very much the same way as cars are setup differently for different drivers now, it is very possible that calibrations will setup differently for different drivers.”
HAVE YOU HAD TO HIRE NEW STAFF? “No. We may in the end-up hiring one person But Earnhardt Childress Racing started participating in the Daytona Prototype Series a year ago and that is fuel injected NASCAR Grand-Am Series. One of our main reasons for choosing to participate in that series was to increase our knowledge of fuel injection and calibration and to upgrade the skill set of our engineers. We are taking the people that have been working on Daytona Prototype now and using them in the Cup program. We feel like that gave us a good head-start. So, no, we are not actively pursuing additional people. We are doing it with what we have.”
HOW MUCH DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN BEFORE WE ACTUALLY GO TO DAYTONA IN 2012? IS THERE STILL A LOT TO BE DONE? HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO LEARN A LOT IN THE SHOP OR DO YOU NEED MORE OF THIS VALUABLE TEST TIME ON TRACK? “Oh my goodness, yes. We have very sophisticated test facilities in the shop. We try to replace testing to a large extent with facilities that actually allow us to be more repeatable and more accurate in what we do. But, nevertheless, there are things that happen at a track. For instance, G-Forces on the engine and on the car as you go around a corner that you can’t do in a laboratory. The track time is invaluable to us. So, yes, there will a number of additional track sessions between now and Daytona. NASCAR is going to have probably two or three more in conjunction with events that they are sponsoring. But we’ll also be going to non-NASCAR sanction tracks and doing additional testing.”
WHAT WILL THE FANS IN THE GRANDSTANDS SEE THAT IS DIFFERENT WHEN THEY ARE WATCHING A RACE? WILL THE CARS GO FASTER? “No, NASCAR has selected components to keep the power level very close to the same as it has been. From a driver’s perspective, they should like this much more because it will be smoother so it will idle better, they’ll have more control when they are coming in and out of the corners because it will put more emphasis on their skill as opposed to managing variability of the engine. Things you used to see that maybe had a lot of ‘G-Whiz” value like flames coming out of the tailpipes as cars went around the corner, that is un-burnt fuel that is escaping the combustion process and leaving the exhaust. It is very inefficient but might be kind of fun to look at. That will probably go away. Should go away because now we have much better control over the fuel mixture and we shouldn’t get in situations where we are pumping un-burnt fuel through the engine. From a fan standpoint, they really won’t notice much difference, but there will a lot of difference inside the car. It won’t sound any different.”
CAN MISTAKES BE MADE IN THE PROGRAMMING THAT LEADS TO ENGINE ISSUES? “Hopefully this actually reduces the number of reduces the number of engine failures because by having improved control over fuel and spark, we should be able to operate the engine in a regime where it is much happier for virtually everything it does. Whereas when you have a carburetor, that is harder to do. For instance right now with the carbureted engine, if you get a piece of paper on the grill and the water temperature goes up, then if the driver isn’t looking or just doesn’t want to come in, then you can have engine failure fairly soon from overheating. What we can do now, because we are measuring water temperature, we can, as the temperature goes up, we can retard the spark or we can do things on the engine side that will reduce the power output of the engine and either make it where the driver wants to come in because the thing is going so slow or will protect the engine from failure.”
YOU CAN DO THAT DURING THE RACE? “Yes, that will be part of the calibration. It has a sensor in the water so as the water temperature goes up then some other control function of the engine will retard spark or will do something else to the engine to limit the performance as the temperatures rising to keep the engine from expiring. This happens automatically. This is the nice thing about having computer control of an engine as opposed to mechanical control.”(Team Chevy), see the full transcript on my Fuel Injection News page.(7-8-2011)
Toyota Racing EFI Testing Notes: Mike Skinner tested Electronic Fuel Injection in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota at Kentucky on Thursday. Lee White, president and general manager of Toyota Racing Development.
Some quotes from both:
Q) How was the first testing session with the Camry outfitted with EFI (Electronic Fuel Injection)?
Mike Skinner “We started out a little rocky this morning -- we had some skips and a few bumps in the road. They’ve worked really, really hard. They’ve remapped this EFI system several times and they’ve got it running really, really good now. I think it’s going to be competitive. I think the lap times were respectable for what we’re doing and the car we’re doing it with. I think we’re far enough along now to put one of our full-time Sprint Cup drivers in it and get a second opinion and see what they think about it.”
Q) Could you tell a difference between the EFI car and a non-fuel injected Camry?
Mike Skinner “I drove both today, as you know, and on the race track at first you could tell a lot of difference, but we didn’t have this thing worked out. Each map change that they’ve made -- they went backwards, they went forwards, they went backwards and they went forward -- the last three runs have all been forward. On the race track now, I’m not so sure you can tell a big difference at all.”
Q) Did it take any time to get the EFI Camry acclimated to the race track?
Mike Skinner “Out of the box, it was fine. I’ve done a lot of laps here. We used to test here a lot back in the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) days. I won a truck race here and I have a lot of laps in trucks here, so the racetrack wasn’t any problem at all.”
Q) What is the next step in the development of the EFI system?
Mike Skinner “We’re starting to ‘nitpick’ things a little bit now and what I want to work on next is to get the car to come in and out of the pits and not be ‘ratty.’ We need to be able to maintain pit road speed. There’s a bit of gain there if the car isn’t surging at pit road speed, because if your car’s surging at pit road speed you have to go on the latter side -- you have to go on the back side of that -- and if you’re giving up a mile-an-hour on pit road, then on green flag starts you give up a lot of time on the race track. I want to work on getting this EFI car to where we get on and off pit road with it okay, we get in and out of the pits with it okay, and it will maintain pit road speed without surging.” Q) How do you feel about the move to EFI?
Lee White “The injection thing, particularly at the level we’re doing it here, is something we have three decades of experience with. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, because we want to do it right. We’ve spent a lot of time working together with McLaren and Freescale, and of course with NASCAR. We’ve had weekly meetings with NASCAR to try and contribute with everything around the ECU that McLaren provides: the looming; the sensors; connectors between the ECU and harness that is in the engine compartment; how you deal with heat; how you deal with crash damage; if you have to change out an ECU what kind of connector can you use; and tried to help them from our experience. We’ve done some track testing that the NASCAR guys have done with us and participated and collected data along with our own guys for our use. It’s been a very cooperative project and I’m sure the other manufacturers have contributed, as well as engine builders that are out there -- with Hendrick, Roush, Yates, Childress, Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing and TRD. It’s a very interesting program and we’re moving forward with it.”
Q) How has today’s EFI test gone so far?
Lee White: “So far today, it’s been great. Most of the issues that I think we we’re going to have we’ve sorted through either on the dyno, or in private testing, and we were able to make way so far. It looks to me like everyone here has had a pretty trouble-free day. I know for us, it’s been a matter of logging laps and some minor changes to adjust the drivability issues around the garage more than anything. There’s nothing that we’ve seen in terms of performance on the race track that worries us at all.”
Q) What were the objectives for today’s EFI test?
Lee White: “Just logging laps. We’re in an environment here we can’t duplicate on the dyno -- which is heat and vibration associated with coming into the garage area, idling around, parking, shutting it down, letting it heat soak, firing it back up, and all the things that are really impossible to do on a dyno. So, you’re just completing the test evolution.”
Q) Are you already ahead of the curve and can you use what you know?
Lee White: “Frankly, I think we’re still trying to catch up for the carburetors. The carburetors are so highly evolved and do certain things so well, I’m not sure at this point I think we’re still a few horsepower behind the carburetors are. Given what happens with the phenomenon of charge cooling with the carburetor sucking the air through at very high velocity, which actually cools the air to a great degree and then mixes it with fuel in that process, you don’t do that with the fuel injection. You don’t have that charge cooling effect which helps multiple horsepower, so we’ll see. I think everyone here would agree that it will be very hard to make more power with the fuel injected engine than where we’re at with the carburetor. The amount of air that’s being allowed into the engine is very similar, because the throttle body that NASCAR has approved for use is very close to the same size as the carburetors we’ve all been using. I think they’ll probably be a bit greener -- you're not going to have the fuel spilling into the exhaust system when you back off the throttle. You can actually control that, so the fans will see a modest difference. You won’t see the black smoke from all the flames belching out the tailpipes. You won’t hear a bit of difference. You won’t see a bit of difference just watching the cars go around the race track. To me, that’s good. It’s not that type of thing where it’s going to be dramatically different senses that you are going to pick up that your hearing or seeing or smelling or anything. But, just the knowledge that it’s a step in that direction towards something that’s more relevant to what you buy on the showroom floor -- there’s a certain number of fans that I think that means something to. Hopefully, as we move forward more and more of those people will come watch.”(Toyota Racing)(7-8-2011)
Testing at Kentucky - Session 2: the scheduled two-hour second session of testing/practice is over for the Quaker State 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, after 120 scheduled minutes, the top five, slowest and notes:
slowest: #7-Wimmer 170.794 & #32-Bliss 171.789
no speed listed: #81-Riggs, #34-Gilliland
fastest 10 lap average
Five Cars are testing fuel injection and assigned special numbers:
#121-Ricky Stenhouse, Ford, 176.171
#125-Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 175.256
#124-Mike Skinner, Toyota, 174.537
#123-Austin Dillon, Chevy, 173.433
#122-Aric Almirola, Chevy, 170.138
Note: teams can change engines after Thursday's testing is over with no penalty, cars were not inspected, qualifying order will NOT be set by Thursday's testing speeds.
See fastest speeds, laps run, average speeds on the Kentucky Practice Speeds Page.(7-7-2011)
Testing at Kentucky - Session 1: the scheduled four-hour first session of testing/practice is over for the Quaker State 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, after 240 scheduled minutes, the top five, slowest and notes:
#48-Johnson 175.879 mph
slowest: #81-Riggs 169.279 & #7-Gordon/Wimmer 170.600
no speed listed: #77-Gordon, #34-Gilliland
Robby Gordon is entered in the #77 and Scott Wimmer is in the #7
Five Cars are testing fuel injection and assigned special numbers:
#121-Ricky Stenhouse, Ford, 174.340
#124-Mike Skinner, Toyota, 173.717
#123-Austin Dillon, Chevy, 173.210
#125-Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 173.071.
#122-Aric Almirola, Chevy, 172.227
Note: teams can change engines after Thursday's testing is over with no penalty, cars were not inspected, qualifying order will NOT be set by Thursday's testing speeds.
See fastest speeds, laps run, average speeds on the Kentucky Practice Speeds Page.(7-7-2011)
Special test sessions at Kentucky: In preparation for the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Kentucky Speedway this weekend, there will be two test sessions for teams on Thursday. In addition to team testing for the event weekend, NASCAR is taking advantage of this test to offer the opportunity for teams that are prepared to test fuel injected cars to do so. NASCAR expects five fuel injection cars to participate, all from various organizations, and all four manufacturers should be represented (NASCAR).
AND NASCAR Sprint Cup engine builders will get a good look at how the new fuel-injection systems work with their engines when teams get to spend Thursday at Kentucky Speedway with cars outfitted with the new units. During the nearly of six hours of open Cup testing at the track, teams can only test one car – but can have a second car outfitted with fuel injection. NASCAR plans to begin using fuel injection with the 2012 Daytona 500. McLaren Electronic Systems and Freescale Semiconductor produce the engine control units, and teams buy the system directly from McLaren. Five engine builders will have cars on the track testing the new system – Hendrick Motorsports (with Aric Almirola driving), Roush Yates Engines/Roush Fenway Racing (Ricky Stenhouse NOT Greg Biffle/Matt Kenseth), Earnhardt Childress Racing/Richard Childress Racing (Austin Dillon), Toyota Racing Development/Michael Waltrip Racing (Mike Skinner) and Penske Racing (Sam Hornish Jr.) will participate. Many teams have tested the systems at other tracks, but this will be the first open test at a track where the teams actually race. NASCAR plans to have more tests throughout the year, and it will have the Cup teams at Daytona next January for further testing.(in part from SceneDaily), no TV coverage is scheduled for the testing.
Of note, NASCAR reports that it will still require the use of restrictor plates with fuel injection at Daytona & Talladega.
Cars Testing are assigned special numbers:
#121-Ricky Stenhouse, Ford
#122-Aric Almirola, Chevy
#123-Austin Dillon, Chevy
#124-Mike Skinner, Toyota
#125-Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge.(7-7-2011)
NASCAR to begin fuel injection tests: NASCAR will allow Sprint Cup teams to bring a second car to test fuel injection for the first time on July 7 at Kentucky Motor Speedway with plans to fully implement the new system at the 2012 Daytona 500. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said at least four organizations are ready to move forward with the Kentucky test. Teams will also be allowed to test fuel injection during an Oct. 4 and 5 test of the new asphalt at Phoenix. There could potentially be another fuel injection test the Monday after the fall race at Talladega.(ESPN)(5-13-2011)
NASCAR says teams can use fuel injection at some tests: NASCAR told Sprint Cup teams Saturday that they can use fuel injection at NASCAR-sanctioned tests this season. The Cup series will switch from carburetors, used since the series’ inception in 1949, to fuel injection next year. NASCAR told teams that they’ll be allowed to test fuel injection at Kentucky in July - where teams will be given an extra day of practice since this will be the first Cup race there - at Goodyear tire tests, and at a test later this year on Phoenix’s repaved surface. John Darby, Sprint Cup series director, also said that he would like to have additional fuel injection tests for all teams at a restrictor-plate track and a 1.5-mile track. A possibility is for teams to test at Talladega the day after the Cup race there in October and to a test at Charlotte Motor Speedway, since most teams are located near that 1.5-mile track, sometime this fall. Another option would be for teams to test in Daytona in January. Two years ago, teams did not test at Daytona, as part of NASCAR’s testing ban. Last year, teams tested at Daytona because it had a new track surface. Fuel injection could allow Cup teams to test at Daytona in January for the second year in a row.(Virginian-Pilot)(5-8-2011)
NASCAR getting ready to test fuel injectors: The first on-track test of fuel injection in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series could come as early as July 7 at Kentucky Speedway, provided NASCAR finalizes specifications for system hardware and software in time for teams to prepare. Because the Cup series will race at Kentucky for the first time on July 9, NASCAR has OK’d extra practice on Thursday, July 7. Cup teams are scheduled to spend four hours on the track that day, and Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines chief engine builder Danny Lawrence hopes that will also provide the first test of fuel injection for the series. “Hopefully they’ll know (about specifications) in a week or two, because there’s getting to be a pretty big push for people to run at the Kentucky test,” Lawrence told Sporting News on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway. “They’re going to have a test day before the race, and if they have everything spec’ed out by then, we’ll try to run there—that’ll be our first deal. I know they’re working on it really hard, and hopefully, they’ll have it figured out in a few days.” NASCAR announced in February at Daytona International Speedway that McLaren and Freescale Semiconductor will partner in the development and manufacture of engine control units (ECUs) designed to manage fuel and ignition systems in Cup cars. Fuel injection will replace the carburetors that have been part of Cup engines since the series’ inception in 1949, with the transition targeted for the 2012 season.(Sporting News)(4-5-2011)
Fuel Injection to NASCAR in 2012: NASCAR is expected to announce Friday that the Sprint Cup Series will shift to fuel injection in time for the 2012 season-opening Daytona 500. It is expected that Britain's McLaren Electronic Systems will provide the controller through a partnership with Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. out of Austin, Texas. Testing and development of the components will continue throughout the year.(FoxSports)(2-11-2011)
UPDATE: NASCAR announced a historic technology partnership with Freescale Semiconductor and McLaren Electronic Systems to develop and integrate fuel injection systems into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, targeted for the 2012 season. Freescale will provide the processors for McLaren’s engine control units (ECUs) that will be used to manage the fuel and ignition systems in the engines for all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars, replacing carburetors which have been used in the series since its inception in 1949. NASCAR and its top series teams will test the technology during the 2011 season with the anticipation of the systems being rolled out for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. The fuel injection system will bring increased technology and efficiency to the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars while at the same time complementing the car’s high performance. This announcement marks the most significant strategic change to NASCAR’s engine platform in decades. As part of this program, Freescale is designated as the “Official Automotive Semiconductor of NASCAR” and McLaren the “Official Engine Control Unit of NASCAR.”
For decades, most of the parts and equipment on NASCAR race cars have been highly customized for racing but at the same time relevant in standard automobiles. This move to fuel injection brings back an important synergy between these two vehicle types. ECUs maximize each racing team’s ability to get the most performance and best fuel economy under all race conditions. With this announcement, plans call for every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team to use a control system with Freescale’s advanced 32-bit Power Architecture based engine management processors at its core, beginning in 2012. These same processors power millions of today’s most energy efficient engines.
The ECUs are tamper-proof, ensuring that only approved software may ever be run during a race weekend. Additionally, NASCAR will have special electronic tools at its disposal during every event to ensure the legality of all ECUs.(NASCAR)
AND Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, said during the news conference that Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series will not be going to the fuel injection system in 2012 and that NASCAR is working on a new engine package for both series (Nancy/Jayski)(2-11-2011)
Fuel Injection coming to Sprint Cup...next summer: NASCAR expects fuel injection to be introduced next summer. The target date appears to be July 9th -- the Cup weekend at Kentucky Motor Speedway (FoxSports)(10-16-2010)
Latest on Fuel Injection: Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, said that if all goes well, fuel injection could debut in the middle of next season in Cup.(Roanoke Times)(9-18-2010)
NASCAR may test fuel injection in a handful of 2011 races: Ron Dennis was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday to discuss several topics including the upcoming introduction of fuel injection in NASCAR. Dennis, 63, is the executive chairman of McLaren Automotive. He was the team principal of McLaren's Formula One team until last year, helping win eight drivers' championships. "I'm here representing my group of companies, specifically my (McLaren) electronics company," Dennis said. "We're hoping the commitment to quality and excellence is something that will allow us to become selected by NASCAR in production for some of the fuel injection and some of the other safety benefits and ecological benefits that we can bring with some of the technology that we have." Jack Roush met with Dennis on Saturday morning and discussed the transition of fuel injection in NASCAR. Roush said McLaren Companies has a proposal in to NASCAR to bid on fuel injection. But Roush believes the change will come with a price. "Don't think that it's going to be less expensive," Roush said. "It's going to put a burden on the teams. Any time you bring in a new technology that is complex, there's a cost. And there will certainly be a cost for the teams. It's likely to occur sometime in 2011. I think we've all heard the same thing. I don't think it will be more than a handful of races. Maybe start with the (Budweiser) Shootout. That would be my suggestion. They might do that, then look at the end of the year and see what they think about it, then full time in 2012."(Fox Sports)(7-25-2010)
Fuel changes coming in NASCAR: The only question about fuel injection in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series is when it will be added not if. Not far behind could be the use of an ethanol-based fuel. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, said that plans remain set for fuel injection to debut in the Cup series next season and that NASCAR's use of an alternative fuel also could come next year. "We should have some more answers probably in the next 21 days,'' Pemberton said about fuel injection. "I'd say we're on target, hopefully for early 2011 but it remains to be seen. We can't do it and screw things up but things are moving along pretty nicely right now.'' As for using an ethanol-based fuel, Pemberton said: "We're still looking at the fuel and what ratio percentage that we will use when we get there. "Our goal when we set out ... was (it) to happen in 2011. We have teams that have been running on the dynos with E10 and E15 and all the way up to E30. For the most part it's been E10 and E15.'(Roanoke Times)(3-25-2010)
NASCAR shooting to implement fuel injection in 2011: By the time the 2011 racing season gets under way, the only place to find a carburetor in the Sprint Cup Series might be in NASCAR's Hall of Fame. Officials said today that they hope to replace carburetors with fuel injection, and have been testing potential systems with an eye toward making the change as soon as possible. "We are in the process of the development and the testing and have been for probably six or eight months," " said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition for NASCAR. The easy part is to just build the fuel injection system. The thing that we need to put into play is how are we going to regulate it, and what's going to be fair for everybody?" NASCAR is one of the only racing organizations that continues to use carburetors in its series. Fuel injection is a more accurate, and efficient, way of delivering fuel into the engine. It has been around since the 1950s and has been in place on all passenger cars in the United States since the late 1980s. Pemberton said some Cup teams have already been developing and working with systems with the expectation that such a move would eventually be made. Some teams, Pemberton said, "do have track time … on their early production or early prototype fuel injection system. "So our goal is to shoot for 2011," he said. "I think that's pretty aggressive. "We are pushing hard."(SceneDaily)(1-23-2010)
Fuel Injection in 2011?: Several sources, including a NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chief and a manufacturer's representative, have confirmed that the sanctioning body intends to replace carburetors with fuel injection on Sprint Cup engines in 2011. The move has been discussed for several years, but in a meeting between NASCAR representatives and representatives of the manufacturers held after the Talladega race, the plan was reportedly presented to those in attendance.(Orlando Sentinel)(11-19-2009)
No fuel injection until 2011? Car owner Richard Childress predicts that NASCAR will go to fuel injection in 2011. Childress has a share company that builds Chevrolet motors [Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines]. He says "we're constantly working on it right now.'' Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition for NASCAR, said that series officials met with teams about it last week. "It wasn't about ideas, it was about laying out the groundwork ... with fuel injection,'' Pemberton said. "We're right in the very, very early stages of all of that.''(Roanoke Times)(10-2-2009)
Fuel Injection coming to NASCAR? UPDATEs: When NASCAR Sprint Cup director John Darby, a few weeks ago, raised the issue of 'fuel injected' racing engines in NASCAR, it raised eyebrows. NASCAR Cup engines are some of the most technically advanced engines in racing, except for the antique carburetors. Every other major form of racing, even ASA, uses fuel injected engines. NASCAR has long shied away from things electronically complicated like electronic fuel injection, for fear – with goodly reason – that the mechanical wizards on these racing teams might figure out a way to put some tricks in that electronic box. However NASCAR officials are raising the issue to team owners of fuel injected engines – possibly in the Truck series as soon as next season, according to one scenario – and asking how owners think NASCAR ought to police it. "We think fuel injection is just the right way to go in NASCAR," Pat Suhy, Chevrolet's NASCAR field director, says. "And it wouldn't be that difficult. Every other top racing series uses fuel injection. We could put something together in about a week – depending on how simple or complex you wanted to do it – and then test it for two months or so, and be ready to go."(MikeMulhern.net) (8-16-2009)
UPDATE: NASCAR is researching the possibility of moving from engines with carburetors to fuel injection. Officials met with top engine builders from organizations earlier this month to discuss the move of that technology and others that would make cars more fuel efficient and more like cars on the manufacturer showroom floor. Manufacturers switched fully from carburetors to fuel injection in the 1980s. No timetable has been set for when fuel injection could be used, but Toyotas Lee White said his company could be ready to go by the 2010 opener at Daytona if NASCAR gave the go-ahead. "I would vote for it," White said on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. "No question, because everyone right now is spending an absolute fortune on [carburetor technology] that has absolute zero application in real life." White said all manufacturers need to be more conscious about the environment to survive, and he believes NASCAR needs to move more in that direction. "Sit in the grandstands and watch these cars go into Turns 1 and Turns 3 and watch all the fuel belching out the tailpipe," he said. "Thats wasted fuel thats going right into the grandstands in terms of lead poison." White said the transition could be made easily and without great expense. "Its something that could be implemented along with a few other things that could be discussed that could potentially reduce costs and increase the potential audience for the sport," he said.(ESPN)(8-21-2009) UPDATE 2: Speaking on condition of anonymity, a NASCAR official told SPEEDtv.com Friday that researchers for the sanctioning body met recently with team owners, engine builders and other constituents, but that discussions are purely in the research phase for the moment. Asked if one or more of NASCAR’s top divisions might convert to fuel injection as early as next year, the NASCAR official said, “I don’t see it happening.”(SPEEDtv)(8-22-2009)
AND - Ford: Brian Wolfe, director, Ford North American Motorsports, was recently on The Race Reporters show. Wolfe said he's in favor of fuel injection for NASCAR engines, that Ford will debut its new Cup engine before this season is finished, and that technical assistance is available to teams which might want to change manufacturers for the 2010 season.(SpinDoctor500blog)(8-22-2009)
UPDATE 3: Sources have told FOXSports.com that Hendrick Motorsports is working on the fuel injection project for NASCAR. If NASCAR opts for fuel injection engines in the near future, it will likely increase production costs by $15,000 to $20,000. One engineer also quipped, "It will be more fuel efficient, but also provide teams with an easier platform to cheat."(FoxSports)(8-23-2009)