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Diamond

NASCAR and Energy Efficiency

It never fails. When I give a talk about The Science of Speed at a University science department (as opposed to a talk for the public), someone will ask “How can you advocate for NASCAR? They’re the biggest waste of gasoline.”

Or something similar.

I’m going to look at this in two ways. People often confuse how much energy is used with how efficiently energy is used. One way to cut back on energy usage is to use less energy, but it’s also possible to use less energy by using the energy more efficiently. […]

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Childers, Rodney

Estimating Fuel Mileage

Last week at New Hampshire, Kevin Harvick easily had the most dominant car, but failed to win the race. They ran out of fuel with three laps to go and finished 21st. The #4 team […]

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Graphs and Charts

Infographic: Fuel Mileage Races

Well, it finally happened. They made it so easy to made an infographic, even I can do it. It’s not perfect – the tool I used doesn’t like graphs with fractions, so I couldn’t get it to give me any lines between 0 and 1. But hopefully you can get a relative idea of how much fuel you need to complete a lap at different tracks. […]

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Energy

Do Tires Affect Gas Mileage?

When winning means a few hundredths of a second, nothing is too small to be ignored. I’ve talked a lot about energy and the importance of using it as efficiently as possible in racing. Gasoline provides a […]

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Explosions

Why You Don’t Mess With Fuel Cell Foam

We’d been hearing rumors of penalties stemming from Kansas and everyone expected them to be announced Tuesday. Since penalties usually have some scientific component, I was sort of hoping for some new material. Tuesday came and went. Nothing. Wednesday, all heck broke loose as penalties were announced for the No 20 JGR car (engine issues) and the No 98 ThorSport truck.
The more interesting — and less discussed — penalty is the ThorSport/Johnny Sauter one. (It was a tough week for Wisconsin drivers). The team was docked 25 points, which is pretty huge for the Truck Series and the crew chief fined $10,000. (I realize that seems small when compared to the Sprint Cup Series penalties, but the Truck Series has correspondingly lower purses and salaries.) […]

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Childers, Rodney

Phoenix: Relay Race?

The race at Phoenix was the first non-restrictor-plate race. A number of drivers experienced engine-related problems, leading some media outlets to start blowing the “EFI problems” horns as loudly as possible. Mark Martin, the pole sitter, was an unfortunate casualties of a “flipped circuit breaker”. One of the most interesting exchanges to me was a series of tweets and a radio interview with Mark Martin’s Crew Chief Rodney Childers (@rchilders55) in which Childers repeatedly said it not “an EFI problem”, the radio commentators persisted in saying that it was. […]

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Engines

The Math of Fuel Mileage

I guess when you have people feeding you all the numbers you need through your earpiece, you think they’re easy to come by. That’s the only explanation I can figure out for the snarky comments by television commentators about crews not being “smart enough” to figure out how much gas to put in the car so that it doesn’t run out before the end of the race. There have been a lot of fuel mileage races the last few weeks. Pocono is traditionally also highly likely to be a fuel mileage race, so let’s clarify how easy (or hard) it is to not run out of fuel. […]