NASCAR has issues with electronic fuel injection
For the Nevada Appeal
NASCAR’s switch to electronic fuel injection (EFI) this season seems to have fallen afoul of the law of unintended consequences. It appears there are some glitches in the system that were not uncovered in preseason testing. Uncovered so far are breakers that trip when drivers turn off the engine to save fuel, causing the engine not to re-fire.
This cost Tony Stewart lots of points at Phoenix. There are also reports of reduced fuel mileage when the system decides to run richer than intended. Jimmy Spencer suggested that NASCAR should have phased the system in, much as they did with the Car of Tomorrow, running only 10 or so races with the system the first year. It’s a bit late for that now, but he has a good point. On a related topic, Brad Keselowski’s use of his Iphone to tweet during the Daytona red flag has some folks concerned that the phone could also be used to alter the EFI control unit. There’s an app for that?
Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 team has appealed the penalties levied at Daytona for illegal C pillars on their car. It seems that the car fit the NASCAR templates, but the pillars had been modified between template points. As I recall, there was a similar situation at Infineon with both the 48 and 24 teams a few years back, resulting in fines, point deductions, and suspensions. I doubt that NASCAR will allow the appeal, which is scheduled for 6 a.m. on March 13.
Speaking of Infineon, the naming rights deal for the track expires in May. I have continued to refer to the track as Sears Point, since that’s what it was when I first worked a race there in 1969, and when I raced and announced races there. The track is in negotiations with three or four undisclosed companies for naming rights, but I personally hope the name reverts to Sears Point.
NASCAR invades Las Vegas this weekend, with the Nationwide race today and Sprint Cup Sunday. Mark Martin will join Joe Gibbs Racing for today’s Nationwide race. I suspect that Gibbs hired Mark in an effort to beat Kyle Busch, who is running his own Nationwide team this year. I have heard that the Gibbs is not overjoyed about Busch racing against his former team, but that’s the deal Busch cut with J.D. Gibbs. Look for Johnson to continue to dig himself out of the points hole in Sunday Sprint Cup race. Johnson has four wins at Las Vegas, the most of any driver. However, he will have to contend with the Roush Fords of Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Greg Biffle. Edwards and Kenseth each have a pair of wins at Las Vegas, with Edwards taking last year’s race. And Biffle has a pair of third-place finishes in the first two races this season and is looking for his first Vegas victory.
Also on tap this weekend is NHRA’s Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida, one of the biggest races of the season for straight-line racers. Qualifying and eliminations will be broadcast live on ESPN3 and rebroadcast on same-day delay on ESPN2.
For you Formula 1 fans, the 2012 season will kick off next weekend in Australia. Among the 2011 drivers missing from the grid will be veteran Rubens Barrichello, who has been confirmed as a driver for KV Racing in the Izod IndyCar Series. Comments by Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso indicate that the team’s new cars are not as competitive as he would like, and he doesn’t expect any podium finishes early in the season. Rival McLaren was very quick in testing, and looks to be the most likely team to challenge the dominant Red Bull cars. Speaking of Red Bull, Mark Webber is on the final year of his contract, and his continued employment with the team is very much dependent on his performance this year. In 2011 he was outshined by his teammate and two-time champion Sebastian Vettel. Will Vettel be Formula One’s Jimmie Johnson? I wouldn’t bet against it.