Injection direction

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

The timetable has been set for NASCAR to jump into the 21st century with the introduction of fuel-injected engines by next season as reported by this column nearly a year ago.

It was confirmed by NASCAR's tech boss Robin Pemberton a week ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway during tests on the re-designed rear spoiler for Sprint Cup cars.

"The fuel injection is -- I would say, close to on target, and we've had some changes in the last 90 days, 120 days, and it's about -- really it's about trying to get a level playing field for everybody," Pemberton said. "I'd say we're on target hopefully for early 2011."

But for those who think it will be the same kind of motor you have in the Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge or Toyota that is parked in your driveway, think again.

According to a source at an engine building shop in Charlotte, N.C., NASCAR's version of the EFI (electronic fuel injection) engine will be a morphed model using injection technology while keeping a form of carburetion that would allow NASCAR to limit horsepower as it does now with restrictor plates at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

"(NASCAR) has asked the engine builders to come up with something that keeps them on top of the technology," the source told QMI Agency. "Yet at the same time they want to be able to insure the same technology won't open new avenues for engine builders to cheat (create more horsepower)."

Sprint Cup drivers already are talking about it as a done deal.

Four-time champion Jeff Gordon, who is about as reliable a source as anybody in the NASCAR garage, said that he had been told the whole concept is still in the testing stage but it definitely will be a crossover engine.

"From talking to some of the engine guys (at Hendrick Motorsports) it's not a full-blown fuel injection," Gordon said. "It's kind of, like, a semi-modified carburetor/fuel injection. I think that we have some ideas on how we can make it really more efficient."

And Jeff Burton said he has been told that NASCAR's fears of rampant cheating with EFI engines have been lessened by what has been shown in test results thus far.

"I am not very educated in the fuel-injection deal, but I would think that, in today's time, policing a part wouldn't be a problem," Burton said. "As much policing as NASCAR does today with all the parts on the car, I highly doubt that would be a problem."

Hand-in-hand with the new EFI engines NASCAR has been testing alternative fuels to try to make the sport more environmentally friendly.

Pemberton said his group is hoping to have test results soon on the use of E-10 -- a mixture of 10 % ethanol and 90% gasoline -- in the Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series.

"When we set out, we were pretty aggressive with our goals, and everything was to happen in 2011, and where we land with the percentage of ethanol has not been determined yet," Pemberton said. "But we have teams that have been running on the dynos with some E10 and E15 and all the way up to E30. But for the most part it has been E10 and E15.

"Right now there's a lot of work, so I can't sit here and put a date to it. We're still working at it."

Lazy prima donnas

The Melbourne Herald Sun reported this week that Australian Grand Prix boss Ron Walker has just about had enough of the attitude that Formula 1 drivers are packing along with their race suits when they visit the land down under.

Walker blew a gasket when he was informed that seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher -- who is making a return to racing after ending his three-year retirement -- complained that the late start of this year's Aussie GP left the drivers in the dark near the end of the event.

"You can't please these drivers, they are a bunch of lazy people who won't do anything to help the sport, except for two or three," Walker fumed.

"A lot of drivers are prima donnas. They are never happy."

Ouch.

DEAN.MCNULTY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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