Drivers give new fuel 100 percent support

The Daytona International Speedway Open Test was the first opportunity for the full IndyCar Series field to use the 100-percent fuel grade ethanol in its 3.5-liter Honda Indy V-8 engine, which will power the series in 2007.

The 17 IndyCar Series drivers and teams who participated recorded nearly 1,700 laps on the 10-turn, 2.72-mile road course with no major issues.

"I really didn't notice any difference at all, which I think is the point," said 2005 IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon, who ran the 100 percent fuel grade ethanol for the first time at the test. "It's better for the environment, fuel efficient and hasn't affected engine performance."

The IndyCar Series is the first and only in motorsports to run on a renewable fuel. Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti noted the absence of fumes, which in the past bothered his eyes while a few drivers noticed a different, but familiar smell while running in traffic. "I think it smelled like popcorn," joked A.J. Foyt Racing's Darren Manning. The IndyCar Series next opportunity to demonstrate the power of ethanol will be during its next Open Test scheduled Feb 21-22 at Homestead Miami Speedway."

Here are several IndyCar Series' drivers impression of using 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol:

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Patron Tequila Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "This was a milestone week for ethanol and the IndyCar Series since every car at the test was running on 100 percent (fuel-grade) ethanol. The best thing about the test was that there wasn't a huge difference between how the cars were last year and how the cars were running the last couple of days. In fact, the few slight differences were all positive. That is a huge credit to Honda, the IndyCar Series and ethanol for making sure that the transition to a renewable fuel source has been so smooth."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 17 Team Ethanol Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "One of the first things I get asked as the Team Ethanol driver is if ethanol is good for a street car. The proof is in what you saw the last few days. The entire IndyCar Series field that ran at Daytona was powered without issue on 100 percent (fuel-grade) ethanol, a renewable energy source that is grown right here in the United States. Ethanol performed wonderfully during the test, and if it is good enough for our high-tech, high horse-powered IndyCars, it will certainly get you to around town and back. This is an exciting and historic day for the ethanol industry and the IndyCar Series. We know it is going to be a historic season for ethanol and it is great to kick it off with such a positive test at Daytona.

VITOR MEIRA (No. 4 Delphi Panther Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think the IndyCar Series is doing a great job with the use of 100 percent ethanol this season. It's pretty innovative, and I think sets a good example for the rest of the United States on using this source of fuel. I remember the first go-kart I ever drove in Brazil was ethanol-powered, and I feel like I've come full circle since my Delphi Panther car is now running on ethanol."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The car runs the same and you really can't tell the difference. They only difference is that is smells a lot better."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think it's a big plus for the IndyCar Series to run 100 percent (fuel-grade) ethanol. It shows the series is heading in the right direction. And after this test, there's no question in my mind that it won't make our car any different this year."

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