NASCAR has announced that going forward, all vehicles racing in the competition will be using fuel-injected engines, rather than carburetors, in an effort to make the cars on the track a bit closer to those out on America's highways.
Fuel-injected engines have been available for years on nearly all commercial vehicles, but NASCAR was somewhat stuck in the past with their adherence to the carburetor. In terms of actual performance, the change is almost negligible. However, switching from the analog carburetor to the digital fuel injection could have wide-ranging effects for the sport, reports The New York Times
A clever crew chief can make adjustments to a carburetor using their mechanical know-how. However, fuel-injection systems are more software than hardware. Every aspect of the system can be controlled via computer. Some believe that this feature, more than anything else, is causing NASCAR to make the switch.
Ultimately, NASCAR has been trying to level the playing field as much as they can lately. While some racing sports are about which manufacturer has the better vehicle, NASCAR tries to keep the focus on the drivers - although this can be controversial. For example, restrictor plate racing keeps everyone's engine power around the same level, which causes big packs. The only way to separate yourself is driver skill, not having a more powerful car than the other guy.
carburetors were an area where one could gain advantage. For starters, they were affected by the weather, so those who prepared could get a slight edge. They were also difficult to regulate. Yet with fuel-injection governed by software, NASCAR could simply give all drivers a standard of settings they would need to use for a particular race. This would make sure that no driver got an advantage because of the settings they had chosen.
Of course, that hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, fuel-injection can help teams working on their vehicles. With carburetors, it's more of a "gut call." Fuel-injection systems provide scientific data on performance that is invaluable to crews looking for the best way to tune their cars.
"We'll be able to study how the engine is responding throughout the race and make adjustments based on science," Doug Yates of Roush Yates Engines told the news source. "Today, the crew chief and driver get together and try to figure out what’s happening on the track. Now, we’ll know."