More than 1 million miles of electronic fuel injection and not a problem

When Dale Earnhardt Jr. crossed the start/finish line to lead Lap 34 last Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there was no special fanfare beyond the standing ovation Earnhardt gets every time he leads a lap. Race control didn't stop the action to give Earnhardt the NASCAR equivalent of a game ball. There was no announcement of a competitive milestone. Yet when Earnhardt led Lap 34 in the Bank of America 500, he logged the one-millionth mile in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition since the transition from traditional carburetors to electronic fuel injection (EFI).

It should come as no surprise that the milestone was decidedly under the radar, given that the switch to EFI itself has been smooth, almost seamless and virtually invisible. Yes, there were issues with fuel pickup, pump configurations, sensors and throttle linkages as teams adjusted to a new computer-based method of supplying fuel to the immensely powerful engines used in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. But not once in a million miles has the brain of the EFI system, the electronic control unit (ECU), failed, from the electronics supplied by McLaren to the computing power supplied by chip maker Freescale. With its frequency and length of races, NASCAR Sprint Cup racing arguably puts more stress on the engine and the EFI system than any other competitive series.

As a driver puts a car through its paces, the ECU records a wealth of data that can be downloaded and analyzed. In fact, the most visible difference between a carbureted system and EFI may well be the banks of laptop computers teams now set up in their garage stalls. NASCAR Wire Service

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