After the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 an ethanol-gasoline mix might be used...

NASCAR teams have increased their testing of a gasoline-ethanol mix given to them by NASCAR, and a rollout of a new fuel that includes a small percentage of ethanol in 2011 is possible, Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby said Saturday at Richmond International Raceway.

The work is still “a research project,” Darby said. Officials are considering a variety of fuels with different percentages of ethanol, and once a mixture is approved, it likely would be used across the three national series.

“Once we had an actual blended ethanol fuel,” Darby said, “you have to have a fair amount of time for the teams to test and work whatever concerns they may have. … Is six months a fair guess? Yeah, but it’s a guess at best.”

The switch to an ethanol-gasoline mix would not be as taxing on the teams as the switch from leaded to unleaded fuel, Darby said. An ethanol-gasoline mix likely would get fewer miles per gallon, leading to possibly an extra pit stop during some races.

Gaskets and other pieces might need to be replaced, although the current fuel cells should be usable, Darby said.

“The reality of it is there [for next year],” Darby said. “If we head that direction, it will be one of a lot of alternative fuels we’ve talked about. … There’s a big difference [between] taking a little ethanol and pouring it into a can of gasoline and having an ethanol-blended fuel.

“All of that is in the works right now. That’s what makes it difficult to talk about timelines.”

Engine builders indicated they don’t expect the new fuel to be used until sometime after the 2011 Daytona 500.

While Sprint Cup teams are also working on fuel injection, that project and the gasoline/ethanol project do not need to be finished at the same time.

“If we were to make a fuel change to any alternative fuel, the Cup garage is working on fuel injection as a future project but at the same time you have your Nationwide garage and Truck garage running carbureted system,” Darby said.

“The delivery system probably doesn’t have a dog in the fight one way or the other.”

source: nascar.speedtv

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