The NASCAR Cup Series features three different engine manufacturers: Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota. There are strict regulations that mean the engines are similar, however, there are some key differences that can result in differences in the performance of the engines at certain circuits.
The differences between the three engine manufacturers in NASCAR, Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota, are minimal. NASCAR regulations dictate engines are 5.8 liters, 750 horsepower, 67-liter fuel capacity. However, teams can, and do, find ways to make efficiency and power improvements within and sometime outside the rules.
We take a look at these similarities and the differences below, we also take a look at what the NASCAR next gen engine might bring to the track as well over the next few years.
What are the Similarities Between NASCAR Engines?Embed from Getty Images
- The NASCAR Cup Series regulations state that the engines must be naturally aspirated, rather than turbocharged. This is as NASCAR bans turbocharged engines due to the turbo lag effect, which could result in a large crash.
- Each engine must also have eight cylinders, thus being a V8 engine, and have a compression ratio of 12:1. Each engine must also have a volume of displacement of 358 cubic inches, or 5.8 litres with an iron block.
- This means that each engine can produce 750 horsepower. However, this horsepower is restricted to 550 on tracks greater than one mile. The engines should also be able to produce 720-newton meters of torque, as well as have a fuel capacity of 67 litres.
- The fuel delivery must also be multi-point. These rules must be followed and are enforced by NASCAR to keep the competition close. The engines are inspected, and if a car fails an inspection, the driver and team could be penalised by a points deduction or monetary fine.
- A NASCAR engine, and the management required to use it, could cost up to $150,000 per race. NASCAR currently has just three engine manufacturers, who produce engines for the teams.
- These manufacturers are tasked with building the best engines for their customers, whilst following the strict regulations. They make changes to legal factors such as the valvetrains, camshafts, ignition system and oil pumps.
What are the Differences Between NASCAR Engines?
As we highlighted above here is more the same between the engines that difference but there is still room between the rules to try to improve and teams will look to get those 10ths of seconds shaved of lap time as in NASCAR it can be the difference between 1st and 10th place. We take a look at the 3 NASCAR Engine manufacturers below.
Ford-powered cars in the NASCAR Cup Series currently used the FR9 engine. Ford have produced engines for NASCAR since 1950, making them the oldest current manufacturer.
However, the FR9 was their first purpose-built, made-from-scratch NASCAR race engine. The engine was developed by Ford Performance, in collaboration with Rough Yates Engines, in 2007.
It was first introduced to NASCAR racing in 2012. The engines are currently leased to seven teams and 13 drivers every race. .
The FR9 development team were tasked with building a superior cooling system. They achieved this, which allows the engine to produce maximum power whilst at very high temperatures. This allows the teams that use the engine to divert more airflow to create downforce.
This translates to better grip and higher speeds, which leads to an increase in performance. Each FR9 engine has over 600 parts. The previous Ford engine in NASCAR was the R452, which Carl Edwards won nine races with during the engines’ final season in 2008.
Rough Yates Engines currently have a partnership with Convergent Science, which allows them to use Computational Fluid Dynamic programs to simulate the flows of fluids in the engine. Ford last won the Cup Series’ Drivers’ Championship in 2018, with Joey Logano.
They last won the Manufacturers’ Championship in 2020. They took their 1000th NASCAR win in 2013.
Chevrolet began producing NASCAR engines just five years later than Ford, in 1955. Their current engine is known as the R07, and it has been used since its introduction in 2007.
The debut of the R07 was the first time that Chevrolet had introduced a new NASCAR engine in over 50 years. The objectives when constructing the new engine were to improve the power output, improve reliability, increase safety and reduce the costs to the teams that they supply.
Chevrolet retained the basic architecture of the engine when designing the new one, but they made big changes to the materials, tolerances, surface finishes and masses to ensure that the engine could hit 10,000 RPM.
The R07 also features six-bolt heads, as opposed to the traditional five, which helps to improve airflow. The oil flow was also changed, so that the oil can be used to cool and dampen parts.
The developers believed that they should not develop the engine as an eight-cylinder engine, but rather as eight one-cylinder engines. This means that they can make the engines light and optimised.
The R07 debuted at the Samsung 500 in April 2007. Just one month later Kevin Harvick made history by winning the Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, becoming the first driver to win using the R07. Chevrolet hold the record for the most Manufacturers’ Titles, with 39.
They also have the most wins as a manufacturer. Combining Cup Series, NXS and Truck titles, Chevrolet have 73, whilst Ford have 23. Toyota only have 19.
Toyota are NASCAR’s newest engine manufacturer. They began their manufacturing in 2007 and have been the only new engine manufacturer of the 21st century. Toyota produces their engines at the Costa Mesa HQ in Southern California.
They produce their engines for six Cup Series teams and make between 350 and 400 engines every year. Toyota used a method known as ‘blueprinting’ to build their engines. This is where each and every engine component is built to the exact rigid specifications in the NASCAR rule book.
The parts are made using CNC machining, and the engines are assembled by hand. The current Toyota NASCAR engine is known as the Camry Racing V8. The blueprinting is key, as in 2013 a Toyota car was given a 50-point penalty after it was found that one of the engine rods was too light by 2.7 grams.
The penalty was later appealed, but it shows how small errors are punished. The Toyota engines are then tested using a dynamometer, which measures horsepower and torque. The engine has a fuel capacity of 18 gallons.
Toyota are also the only non-American engine manufacturer in NASCAR history, with the company coming from Japan.
Toyota have won the Cup Series three times, and their win in 2016 broke Chevrolet’s streak of 13 titles in a row. They won the title again in 2017, and for the third time in 2019.
The Next Gen NASCAR Engine
For the Next few years, at least, NASCAR is keeping the previous V8 5.86 liter (358 Cubic Inch) for what looks like to be the first two seasons Even with the NEXT GEN car coming in. However, it will potentially sound a little different from the stands this time round.
If they do try to get a hybrid into the cars by 2024 it could be different again. This may open up the sport to new OEMs with more specialisation in Hybrid and Electric engine technology. Is it time for tesla to make a NASCAR? Probably not quite yet, and the change will be to hybrids first.
Even if there a closer look at Electric Engines we predict it would follow Rally, Formula 1 and other motorsports by running an All electric drivetrain series in tandem to the regular series.
As NASCAR fans know, and it is implied in the name stock car racing there are lots of similarities between the engines of NASCAR, and not just engines. There is a lot of standardization through the design and build of the car to ensure that the race is arace between drivers and not engineers.
However, saying that, if a new engine is in the pipeline and will be hybrid then it opens up the sport for some changes and hopefully the introduction of a new manufacturer as well. Maybe Dodge would liek to make a welcome return to the sport, or a European manufacturer for a change.
It should be an interesting couple of years while we wait and see.