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NASCAR running cleaner fuel in cars
The stock cars thundering around Richmond International Raceway this weekend will be powered by Sunoco Green E15, a 15 percent ethanol-based fuel that ramps up horsepower and is better for the environment.

The fuel, which was first introduced at the start of this year's racing season Feb. 17 in Daytona, Fla., is NASCAR's latest move in a campaign to make the racing league greener.

"We're taking a blank canvas approach and considering all options in a major way," said Mike Lynch, managing director of green innovation for NASCAR.

While not many people would consider NASCAR and environmental conservation as synonymous, the league has been making an effort in the past several years to become eco-friendly, including instituting recycling programs, reducing waste and implementing the ethanol program.

Among the options NASCAR could look at are other alternative fuels, including other biofuels and hybrids.

While the league is open to new technologies, it will not make changes that affect the quality or integrity of what's happening on the track, Lynch said.

The league "won't do anything that would sacrifice the NASCAR experience for fans," he said.

To assure that the ethanol switch wouldn't affect the racing, the league spent 18 months studying the fuel and talking with engine builders, the race teams and drivers.

Changing over to the E15 was much simpler than when NASCAR made the change from leaded to unleaded gas, Lynch said.

Driver Clint Bowyer says the transition has been relatively seamless.

"That's the good thing. It makes our sport greener and doesn't really change anything" mechanically, he said this week.

NASCAR said the E15, because it is a higher-octane fuel, gives engines an additional 8 horsepower.

The more common version in wide use today is an E10 mix, which is a 10 percent blend of ethanol and gasoline.

The E15 fuel could be available to the general public this year. Richmond Times Dispatch

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