Teams hope to test fuel injection soon

BY foxsports • April 4, 2011

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 given the OK for 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.

Holley will provide the throttle bodies for the fuel-injection systems, but neither McLaren nor Holley builds the injectors or other components such as oxygen sensors. NASCAR either will mandate specific parts or write specifications for the parts and allow the garage to migrate toward preferred vendors.

“It’s not finalized, but it’s close to finalization of software and things the teams will be using,” Sprint Cup Series director John Darby told Sporting News. “We have pretty much finished up a wiring harness specification, and we’re very close to releasing a fuel-injector specification itself.”

If that happens within the next several weeks, fuel-injected engines should be on the track at Kentucky in July.

“They’ll give us a spec and say, ‘It has to have this cone nozzle, and it has to flow in these parameters’ — if they don’t give us a certain part,” Lawrence said. “That’s what we’re waiting on now. That’s why we’re not doing a lot of testing, because the fuel pattern affects a whole lot of it, and we don’t want to spend a lot of time on something and not be right.”

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