There are 43 teams that race every week on the Sprint Cup circuit. All have different setups and alignments to try and create a competitive advantage. The one thing every team has in common: Sunoco race fuel.
It’s been the official racing fuel of NASCAR since 2004. With a new added emphasis on winning, teams are trying different strategies to optimize fuel and their chances at winning. Here are three things to consider about Sunoco race fuel that might impact how you watch the rest of the 2014 Sprint Cup season.
In a sport known for hundreds of miles and thousands of RPM, percentage points make a missive difference when it comes to Sprint Cup teams and fuel mileage. The typical Sprint Cup car will average around four miles per gallon during green flag runs. Mileage gets better when in the draft or during cautions.
A Sprint Cup car has an 18-gallon gas tank. So if a race is 400 miles, that means teams may have to fill up 4-6 times. The difference between 4 and 6 stops is the difference between Victory Lane and lapped traffic.
Sunoco Set Up:
According to Sunoco’s website, the Green E15 is actually green, a 98 octane fuel blend only used for high-performance engines. Teams get fuel directly from a truck 1-2 hours before the race; the fuel goes into the cans Sprint Cup fans see on TV. The cans weigh almost 100 pounds and can flow into the car in about 10 seconds.
The New Math:
Here’s where the math gets interesting and the racing gets even more interesting. As pit teams get more and more advanced, they can often deliver a full four-tire change in less time that it takes to fill up the tank. This creates several interesting questions for crew chiefs:
- Do you wait to fill up the tank and risk a loss in track position?
- Do you run a different fuel strategy?
- Do you worry less about tires?
- Do you change two or four tires?
- Do you rely on the speed of the car or a strategy that has you minimize stops, especially on a road course?
- Do you have enough fuel for up to three green/white runs at the end?
Keep in mind, Sprint Cup cars don’t have fuel gauges. Teams rely on weight, calculators and blind luck to determine if they have enough fuel to finish the race.
Sunoco race fuel has never been more advanced. The strategy as to how and when to use that fuel also continues to evolve. As teams look for any trick that might get them to Victory Lane and the Chase, expect to see Sunoco race fuel used more creatively as the 2014 Sprint Cup regular season dwindles.