How Much Fuel Does A NASCAR Use In A Race?


How Much Fuel Does A NASCAR Use In A Race

NASCAR is a fast-paced racing sport that is revered by many.  The aim is to complete the allocated distance in the shortest time.  To do this, the cars drive at high speeds, which means more fuel is used.  But, how much fuel does a NASCAR use in a race?

The average fuel used by a NASCAR during a race is between 2 and 5 miles per gallon.  A racecar uses roughly 100 gallons of fuel during a 500-mile race at an average of 0.53 gallons per lap.  A NASCAR has an 18-gallon fuel cell and uses Sonoco E15 Race fuel with a 15% Ethanol mix.

There is so much more involved in the fueling, fuel safety, and miles per gallon for a NASCAR team.  This article covers the different ways to save fuel, how much fuel a tank can hold and more.

How Much Fuel Is Used By A NASCAR In A Race?

The average mile per gallon fuel consumption for a NASCAR is between 2 and 5 mpg at race speeds.  The miles per gallon can increase to 14 to 18 mpg per car when the race is under caution.  A rule of thumb is that you will need more fuel for more power.  There are many other ways to make the race car travel further on a gallon of fuel, such as decreasing drag and not braking abruptly.

Many drivers have adopted the coasting method.  When the driver is roughly 200 feet from the turn (oval track), they will lift off the accelerator and utilize the engine’s resistance to slow the car down enough for the turn.  When exiting the turn, drivers will ease onto the power by smoothly pushing down on the “go fast” pedal.

To work in the driver’s favor, coasting requires spot-on timing every lap, and this method might only give an extra 3 to 4 laps per race.

To work out the average fuel usage per race, take the race distance (miles) and divide it with the average mpg of the race car.  E.g., 400 miles ÷ 5mpg = 80 gallons of fuel.

NASCAR Average Mile Per Gallon Fuel Usage

Below is a table that shows the average fuel used per race car.  The averages are calculated using 5mpg.

TrackTrack LengthRace DistanceAve fuel used per car (Gal)Ave fuel used per lap (Gal)
Indianapolis Motor speedway2.5-mile400-miles80.000.41
Talladega Super Speedway2.660- mile500.1 miles100.020.53
Atlanta Motor Speedway1.540-mile400.4 miles80.080.31
Texas Motor Speedway1.440-mile501.0 miles100.20.30
Watkins Glen International2.450-mile220.9 miles44.80.49
Indianapolis Road Course2.439-mile199.9 miles39.90.49
Charlotte Road Course2.280-mile250.0 miles50.00.46
Darlington Raceway1.366-mile501.3 miles100.30.28
Dover Motor Speedway1.000-mile400.0 miles80.00.20

How Much Fuel Is Used At A NASCAR Event?

During the 2015 Daytona 500 race, the 43 cars that entered the race used a total of 5375 gallons of race fuel.  This gave an average of 125 gallons per car for the race.  In the practice and qualifying sessions, it is estimated that the cars use an additional 20 to 25% of fuel.

How Big Is A NASCAR Fuel Tank?

NASCAR has put regulations in place so that the winning car wins with a mile per gallon rather than the amount of fuel stored in the tank.  For this reason, NASCAR has standardized an 18 Gallon fuel cell to be used in all NASCAR race cars.

Teams in NASCAR can pit for fuel as many times as they need to, but with every pit stop, time and race position will be lost.  A race car will require 3 to 4 refueling stops to complete a race, but only if the car is topped up with fuel.  In some cases, the team will only fill the tank with a specific amount of fuel, which could be due to distance left to race or as a race strategy.

A race car with maximum fuel on board will be slower than a race car with only half a tank.  The weight of the fuel plays a significant role in the speed of a race car.

NASCAR Fuel Tank Safety Features

NASCAR fuel tanks are painted bright red, so in the event of an accident, if the tank is flung out from the car, it will be highly visible.  There is a fire suppression system in the cabin and in the trunk where the fuel cell is located.  The fire system will activate if it senses high heat coming from these areas.  The fuel cell also has a cage built around it to secure it to the race car’s chassis.

How Much Fuel Does A NASCAR Use In A Race

Pre Next Gen Car: How Are NASCAR Racers Refueled?

NASCAR teams used a dump-can (fuel can) to refuel the race cars when they come into the pits.  The dump-can holds 11 gallons of fuel and can force it into the race car’s tank in under 8 secondsThat is a whopping 1.38 gallons per second fuel flow, great for when you are in a hurry!

The dump-can used a simplistic but efficient design to fill the fuel tank.  It has a breather tube to force the air up and out of the can, while the fuel can flow into the tank with very little air resistance.  The dump-can does used a pump but rather uses gravity to force the fuel out. 

All the teams in NASCAR get their fuel from a centralized holding tank at the race track.  The centralized tank prevents teams from contaminating the fuel or adding additives that might give them a slight advantage on the track.

How Does the Next Gen Nascar Refuel?

At the Daytona 500 in 2022, there was a marked similarity with the old way of refueling using the fuel bladder carried over the pit wall, however there is a plan to move towards a clamp on hose system similar to the IMSA in the near future.

What Fuel Type Is Used In NASCAR?

NASCAR uses Sunoco Racing Gasoline, E15 (green fuel), which is a high-octane racing fuel with 15% ethanol.  The race fuel is specifically designed to deliver the best performance in racing engines with a compression ratio of 12.2:1.

In 2015 NASCAR passed the Ten Million Mile milestone using the E15 green fuel.  The green fuel has assisted NASCAR to lower its carbon footprint and aids in reducing this sport’s environmental impact.

Conclusion

The average NASCAR uses between 2 and 5 miles per gallon of fuel at race speed and 14 to 18 mpg in caution conditions.  While the drivers can use methods to reduce the mpg, it all comes down to race strategy.

The average NASCAR will use 100 gallons for a 500-mile speedway race.  This will require the car to refuel up to 4 times during the race, as the NASCAR fuel cell can only hold 18 gallons.  The Race teams use a dump-can capable of filling 11 gallons of fuel in less than 8 seconds.  NASCAR is all about power, and for the power, you need to burn fuel.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASCAR_rules_and_regulation

https://nascar101.nascar.com/2021/07/05/evolution-of-the-nascar-pit-stop/

https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/how-much-fuel-does-a-formula-1-car-use-f1-nascar-more-compared-4980266/4980266/

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