NASCAR Closes Fueling Loophole

NASCAR issued a technical bulletin to teams this week with some new language regarding where fuel filler cans could be filled at the track. The new rule basically states that fuel cans can only be filled at the designated Sunoco fueling stations in the infield. This move by NASCAR closes a loophole that some teams were exploiting on pit road to get an advantage with fueling during pit stops.

These days, when discussing fueling during pit stops, teams talk about things like head pressure and flow rates. It’s all fancy terminology used to describe how teams can get the fuel out of the cans and into the cars faster. What teams discovered, is that filling cans as full as possible allows the fuel to flow faster from them. But when cans get filled at the Sunoco stations at the track, they aren’t filled to capacity. The Sunoco workers put approximately the same amount of fuel in each can, which leaves a little extra space. Crew members were then taking these cans to pit road, and adding extra fuel to them from storage cans.

In doing so, and getting better flow rates from the cans, teams can have faster pit stops and get cars fuller, which creates a competitive advantage. Especially at tracks where tires aren’t an important factor, like Daytona and Talladega. Having cans that dump faster allows fuel only stops to be quicker, the now popular two tire/two can stops to be quicker, and for cars to be completely full on standard four tire stops.

Some teams have been getting away with this all season, but in recent weeks NASCAR has become vigilant in their efforts to stop the practice. Officials have been walking pit road during the race and forcing teams to remove extra storage cans from pit stalls. There was not a rule in the rule book prohibiting it per se, but NASCAR has been letting teams know all season they didn’t want it to happen. Now this bulletin makes it official.

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9 Responses to “NASCAR Closes Fueling Loophole”

  1. ronfrankl says:

    Without mentioning any names, of course, do you know if any teams were caught in the act of adding additional fuel to the fuel cans?

  2. T.C. says:

    @Ron: Yes, teams have been caught. Also, teams have been turning each other in to NASCAR for doing it.

  3. Andrew Marino says:

    God forbid anyone have an advantage. Not like it’s a competition or anything. I can see a safety factor though of not having storage tanks in the pits.

  4. Henry says:

    I came here from Jayski today, I never knew of this site. After reading several related pit stop articles, I have had concerns about all this pit crew racing since the disaster of 1989. It must have been quite something anticipating the next yellow flag in the “olden” days when the first guy in could turn the race upside down, but when there were just Petty, Pearson, and Yarbrough, it wasn’t much of a crapshoot. Here is my point: NASCAR changes pit rules and stop times go up, the teams perfect their techniques and the times drop. NASCAR has a screw up, they NEVER have to perfect anything, they just copout and never even try!!! 2 quotes come to mind, Richard Petty (years ago) said, “One of these days (all) we need is a speed limit on pit road”. From NASCAR official, “It took us 25 minutes to line the cars (during a race) up one time, we will NEVER do that again!!”

  5. Ray Hale says:

    Nice article…never heard of this before

  6. Woogeroo says:

    oh hey…. ya’ll started posting again.

    Ya’ll went dark for so long I figured NASCAR had ya’ll taken out and shot or something. I’d even deleted the bookmark.

    Nice to see ya’ll are still around, I always liked your views on things.


  7. Neon says:

    So if “….But when cans get filled at the Sunoco stations at the track, they aren’t filled to capacity. The Sunoco workers put approximately the same amount of fuel in each can, which leaves a little extra space.” is true, then how are teams actually able to compete on a level playing field when it is up to a station worker’s accuracy to determine volume rec’d? of course eventhough NASCAR is using a dry break probe system, in using fill cans they spill a lot when disengaging.
    Heck in F1, teams “make” their own fuel & mixture.

  8. T.C. says:

    @Neon: It’s not 100% fool proof, obviously. The pumps at the Sunoco stations at the track are almost identical to the ones you use to fill your street car. The workers get close, and then move on to the next can. I don’t know exactly how a few tenths or hundredths of a gallon would affect fuel flow, but maybe it’s not that much that NASCAR is concerned about it.

  9. tommy says:

    I’ve noticed that fuelers at the pumps will fill until it kicks (they keep their hands on it though)and then top it off a little. They don’t reset the pump when they go to the second can. They keep track of how much fuel is dispensed to each team.

    I don’t mind the rule, although I wonder how much of a difference it really made.

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