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Yates talks about unleaded fuel
This weekend’s Cup race will be the first run with unleaded fuel. Doug Yates, who oversees Roush-Yates engines, says plenty of homework by the engine builders went into getting ready for this race.

DOUG YATES – Roush-Yates Engines – FROM A COMPETITION STANDPOINT, WILL THE FANS IN THE STANDS SEE ANY DIFFERENCE? “This is a big race and the unleaded fuel is a big change for these engines. The people in the stands, the only way they’re going to see a difference is if there’s attrition, but hopefully everybody’s done their homework and nobody has any problems. I listen to some of the reporters and things, and they say, ‘It’s just unleaded fuel, it’s no big deal,’ but it is a big deal. And what’s big about it is taking the lead out of the fuel takes some of the cushion, some of the lubricity out of the fuel. So, what we have problems with is valves and valve seats, and we’ve been through a very intense process of trying to find the right coatings to protect the valve from wear. That’s one of the issues that we have, and hopefully have done our homework and we won’t have any problems with those. All weekend long we’ll probably be limiting the mileage that we run. Where last year we may have practiced more, we’re going to try to limit some practice and try to do more inspection of the engine components to try to make sure we’re prepared for the race on Sunday.”  

WHAT ABOUT HORSEPOWER AND FUEL MILEAGE? MORE, LESS OR THE SAME? “The horsepower is the same. The fuel burns a little bit differently, but we’ve adjusted everything and at the end of the day it’s the same power, so we won’t see any difference from a competition standpoint. The fuel mileage is yet to be determined. It may be a little bit less for everybody just trying to acclimated to the new fuel, trying to be a little more conservative at first. But I think when it’s all said and done, that’s going to be about the same as normal. This usually comes down to a fuel mileage race. We’re conscious of that and we’re trying to adjust and get as close and as good of mileage as we can, but at the same point, the goal right now for all engine-builders in the garage and ourselves, in particular, we want to see the end of the race and we want to go home and evaluate where we’re at, and then adjust and go forward.”

YOU SEEM CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC. “It’s the first big race, the first 500-mile race, and it is a little bit concerning right now just to get to the end of this race and make sure that all of our components look good. But the Busch and the Truck guys have been on this fuel for about six months now, and we’ve tried to learn from those guys. But their races are 300-mile races and this race is an additional 200 miles, so in that last 200 miles, is that going to make a difference? We’ll see on Sunday.”

WHAT ABOUT OTHER FUELS, SUCH AS ETHANOL, IN THIS SERIES? “The environmentally conscience side of me says that we need to be more proactive on all of these fronts, and everything takes time, but if we plan it and do our homework, we need to be leaders, not followers, in the fuel category. Right now our whole country is in a bit of a crisis and it would be nice – what the people in the stands see, they go out and usually follow suit, so if we could be leaders in that way, I would be proud to be part of that. I don’t know if that’s ethanol or different alternatives, but I think that’s something that we should really look hard at. We need America to be strong. The President, at his State of the Union address, said in years he wants to have 20 percent less fuel usage, and it would be nice if we were a part of leading that charge.”

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