What Fuel Does NASCAR Use?

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NASCAR cars use a specially developed and engineered fuel that we can’t be used in our normal everyday vehicles. in case you were thinking of trying!. It is because NASCAR race cars are specifically designed and engineered for racing; hence, they need more power to operate and one of the ways to generate that power is with the fuel.

NASCAR uses Sunoco Green E15 fuel in all its cars. It is made of 85% oil-derived fuel and 15% ethanol without lead, which is why it is the cleanest fuel ever used in the history of NASCAR. It is more oxygenated than general use gasoline andas a result is able to produce more power.

In this article, we will take you through the details of NASCAR fuel and why it is better than ever. Moreover, we will also discuss the estimated cost and amount of fuel used by NASCAR per year.

There have been many changes in the type of fuel used by NASCAR cars during the past few decades. Read on to learn which fuel is used by NASCAR nowadays!

What fuel does nascar use
Editorial credit: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

Fuel Used by NASCAR

All NASCAR cars use a specific type of fuel specially made for them, called Sunoco Green E15. All previous fuels used consisted of lead, but Sunoco E15 does not contain lead at all. It has 15% ethanol which makes this fuel environmentally friendly. It has been formulated keeping all the requirements of a racing car in view, to ensure maximum power and strength.

Since NASCAR cars although called stock cars, are actually far from it and all have different tires, doors, and most importantly engines. They need specially made fuel. You will never see Sunoco E15 sold in your local gas stations because it is unsuitable for conventional cars, and certainly won’t make your minivan go faster!

Why Sunoco E15 is the Preferred Fuel

Sunoco produces a special fuel for all NASCAR cars named Sunoco E15. It is a green color and also supports the environment-friendly narrative; hence it is known as Sunoco Green E15. The fuel burns clean because it does not contain lead.

The Sunoco E15 fuel has an overall octane rating of 98, of which the 113 octane rating comes directly from ethanol. With such an impressive octane rating, this fuel possesses all the power to support the high-cylinder compression engines of NASCAR cars.

This fuel was first produced in 2011 and has been a part of NASCAR ever since. It is estimated that NASCAR has driven around 15 million miles using Sunoco E15, a massive distance indeed.

Hence, Sunoco Green E15 is preferred by NASCAR because it best suits their requirements. It is an exceptional fuel that provides the necessary power to cars whose main purpose is to go as fast as possible for as long as possible.

We have an article on site that covers how this fuel can help NASCAR race cars achieve their speeds as well.

Why is it Known as Green Fuel

The color of Sunoco E15 is green, and by being lead-free, it helps the world, as lead containing fuel releases a high amount of carbon which is harmful to the environment. Since there is 15% ethanol in the fuel, it emits 20% less carbon than leaded fuel.

It burns much cleaner than the previously used fuels, which shows that NASCAR cares about the environment. Hence, the fuel having ‘Green’ in its name!

Which Fuel Was Used Before Sunoco E15

In the past, NASCAR used leaded fuels, which were harmful to the environment. The lead was used as the fuel for NASCAR because it provided enough power to support high-compression engines. Until 2007, NASCAR had the lead in their fuel. Later, they tested lead-free fuel, but it was unsuccessful; hence, NASCAR returned to using leaded fuel.

They used Sunoco Supreme and Sunoco 260 GTX in the past, which consisted of lead and were 100% oil-derived fuel. However, since 2011 NASCAR has completely stopped using leaded fuel. With those 15 million miles being driven this also helps the environment and until NASCAR moves to hybrid or even electric NASCAR Race cars it is a useful step forward.

We have an infographic on fuel here that covers the main points for you to use or share, just remember to credit if you do 🙂

NASCAR Fuel Infographic (2)

How Much Fuel NASCAR Uses Per Race

NASCAR cars require much more fuel than an average car to cover the same distance, which means there is a huge fuel requirement for these cars. It is difficult to tell a specific amount of fuel for a race because it depends upon the length of each race. However, on average, a NASCAR car needs 40 to 150 gallons of fuel during each race.

It means the cars would need to be refilled even during the race as their fuel tanks cannot hold so much fuel at once.

Here is a table of the estimated amount of fuel used in a car at specific racetracks:

TrackTrack LengthRace DistanceAverage Fuel
Talladega Super Speedway2.66 mile500 miles100 Gallons
Indianapolis Motor Speedway2.5 mile400 miles80 Gallons
Texas Motor Speedway1.44 mile501 miles100 Gallons
Dover Motor Speedway1 mile400 miles80 Gallons

We have a more detailed article here on how much fuel a NASCAR race car will use in an average race.

NASCAR Fuel Cost

On average, in a NASCAR race around $3600 worth of fuel is used. It is a rough estimate and can vary according to various factors. However, NASCAR does not have to pay the fuel cost to Sunoco because they consider it their promotion. Sunoco hopes that the race viewers will get their cars filled at Sunoco gas stations although with regular gas, not this racing gas of course.

What fuel does NASCAR use
Editorial credit: Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock.com

Will NASCAR Shift to Electric or Hybrid Cars

Yes, keeping the future requirements in view, NASCAR has mentioned several times about moving on to hybrid vehicles for racing. It is believed that in 2024 NASCAR will unveil a hybrid car model for testing and sponsorship. If everything goes well, NASCAR will soon join several brands to create hybrid cars for racing.

However, they have never shared their plan officially, so there isn’t much clarity about the plans. As far as the hybrid car model is concerned, NASCAR will test it on low-level racecourses to see its performance way before it makes its way into official racing series.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does a Gallon of Fuel Cost?

The fuel of NASCAR racing cars costs around $9 per gallon. The price can vary from time to time.

How Much Fuel Can a NASCAR Race Car Tank Hold?

A race car’s tank can hold 20 to 25 gallons of fuel. During a full race, around 40 to 150 gallons of fuel are required according to the length of the racetrack. So, a race car’s tank needs to be refilled during the race.

Which Fuel is Best for Race Cars?

Alcohol-based fuel is great for racing cars because it has increased fuel efficiency and burns clean. It can be either ethanol or methanol-based fuel. It reduces wear and maintenance requirements on Engines.

We have a couple more articles on NASCAR Fuel on the site in the lsit below.


As we learned, nowadays, NASCAR uses Sunoco Green E15 as it is good for the environment and provides maximum power to the high-compression engines of race cars. It is not suitable for normal road cars, despite NASCAR being called stock car racing, these cars are highly modified to achieve the speeds they do, and this includes the engine.


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