In NASCAR races, drivers speed around the track at startling speeds in an attempt to complete the race as fast as possible. NASCAR vehicles feature specialized features that enable producing so much power, which allows them to generate impressive speeds.
But how does this speed and power production translate to fuel economy?
Compared to a typical, everyday vehicle, NASCAR vehicles get a pitiful fuel economy, coming in at around 5 miles per gallon. But considering the amount of power and speed they produce, it makes sense. Of course, a few factors contribute to this aspect, so continue reading to learn more!
How Many Miles A Gallon Does A NASCAR Car Get?
NASCAR vehicles are highly specialized vehicles, so it’s no surprise that their fuel economy is less than stellar. For many folks who groan at a vehicle that gets less than 15-20 miles per gallon, the fuel economy of these cars is disappointing, at best.
On average, NASCAR drivers get between 2 and 5 miles per gallon at racing speeds. When the race is under caution (drivers must slow to a predetermined speed due to a yellow flag), drivers might get up to 18 miles per gallon, which isn’t too bad.
Although these cars might not look like specialized race cars, they’re a far cry from the average daily driver. They need to produce immense power to garner top speeds, which translates to excessive fuel consumption throughout the race.
There are a few methods NASCAR drivers can use to reduce drag throughout the race, such as decreasing drag and avoiding abrupt braking. For example, many drivers utilize a coasting method. As they approach the curve in an oval race track, they let off the accelerator in the last 200 feet, allowing the engine’s resistance to slow the vehicle for the curve.
For this method to work as the driver intends, they need to use precise timing on every turn. If they do it right, it can give about three or four laps per race.
How Much Fuel Do NASCAR Vehicles Use In A Race?
The total amount of fuel each NASCAR vehicle uses in a race hinges on the race length. For example, if the race is 400 miles in length and the car gets about 4 miles per gallon, the car would use approximately 100 gallons of fuel. If the car got 5 miles per gallon throughout the race, the fuel consumption would drop to about 80 gallons.
Or, let’s take the Daytona 500 as an example. If the cars are getting about 5 miles per gallon on the high end, they’ll need approximately 100 gallons of fuel to complete the race. However, if the car’s fuel economy is on the lower end and it’s getting about 2 miles per gallon, the driver might need as much as 250 gallons for a single race.
It all depends on the car’s fuel economy and the length of the race. Of course, the driver’s efforts to reduce drag throughout the race can make a difference, but that varies.
With pushback from environmentalists regarding fuel consumption in NASCAR races, we might see changes in the future moving toward clean energy and sustainability. NASCAR is planning on taking steps toward hybrid technology, such as regenerative braking, but this could take a while before it appears widespread.
The chart below outlines a few examples of fuel consumption during certain racing series. Each average is based on a NASCAR vehicle that gets about 5 miles per gallon.
|Length of Track
|Total Race Distance
|Fuel Consumption Per Car in Gallons (Average)
|Average Amount of Fuel Used Per Lap in Gallons
|Indianapolis Road Course
|Charlotte Road Course
|Atlanta Motor Speedway
|Talladega Super Speedway
How Big Are NASCAR Fuel Tanks?
The latest generation of NASCAR vehicles holds 20 gallons of gas in a standardized-sized gas tank. In previous generations of these cars, the gas tank was smaller by approximately two gallons.
Prior to this, tanks in a NASCAR car held 18 gallons, which is more than the average compact passenger car. Most cars of this size have tanks that hold between 12 and 13 gallons, so NASCAR cars surpass them in this aspect.
What Type Of Fuel Does NASCAR Use?
NASCAR exclusively uses Sunoco’s Green E15 fuel. Sunoco has been the sport’s official fuel sponsor and supplier since 2004. In those years, the fuel blend has changed several times. Before Green E15, which made its debut in NASCAR in the 2011 season, NASCAR vehicles ran on Sunoco Supreme and Sunoco 260 GTX.
These fuel types were 110-octane leaded fuels composed of 100 percent gasoline. Unlike previous NASCAR fuels, Green E15 is a blended fuel featuring a mixture of unleaded gasoline and ethanol. Sunoco’s Green E15 is named for its greenish hue and ethanol content, which makes up 15 percent of the mixture.
The octane rating of each fuel showcases its ability to withstand compression, and fuels with higher ratings can undergo higher levels of compression before inducing detonation. Since NASCAR engines function with high cylinder compression to supply power, they need fuel with a high octane rating.
How Many Gallons Of Gas Are In A NASCAR Gas Can?
A NASCAR gas can hold approximately 12 gallons of fuel. These gas cans, known as dump cans, feature a unique design that enables pit crews to refuel vehicles rapidly. Since stopping for fuel wastes precious time, pit crews need to be as efficient as possible. The design of the gas can (and its capacity) is one way to speed up this process.
How Long Does It Take To Refuel A NASCAR Vehicle?
Refueling a NASCAR vehicle is a far cry from the leisurely process at your local gas station. Although it might take five to ten minutes to complete the entire process of filling your car, NASCAR pit crews need to be much faster.
On average, a NASCAR pit crew can pour about 12 gallons of fuel into a car’s fuel tank in about eight seconds. The fueling can feature a special design that allows quick refueling, so it’s not like pouring fuel from a basic gas can. Of course, the vehicle might not need an entire can every time, so the team completes careful calculations in advance to determine the correct amount.
Do NASCAR Drivers Turn Off The Car During Refueling?
When fueling their cars, most folks turn off their vehicles for safety. After all, keeping the car on during fueling can present a fire hazard, especially if you accidentally spill gas. However, in a NASCAR race, drivers need to spend as little time as possible in each pit stop.
So, to save time, NASCAR drivers keep their vehicles running, as a few wasted seconds can be the difference between winning the race and coming in second or third. While this is unsafe in typical scenarios, NASCAR pit crews are trained to use safe practices and have the necessary equipment to help.
The pit crews are quick and efficient, using specialized tools to aid in a short pit stop. The driver doesn’t need to turn off their car during the pit stop, as the pit crews have it handled.
How Do NASCAR Drivers Know When It’s Time To Refuel?
Unlike regular cars, NASCAR vehicles don’t feature a fuel indicator, so drivers have no way of knowing how much fuel they have left. To top it off, teams cannot monitor the exact fuel levels in the vehicle, so choosing the right time to refuel is a significant hurdle in every race.
Since the driver needs to remain attentive in the race, their pit crew handles the fuel calculations for them. They use precise formulas to calculate how much fuel is burned and when it’s time to stop. The crew gathers information during the pit stops, noting vital information like how much fuel they add and whether the car is filled to capacity.
With these numbers, pit crews can accurately determine when it’s time to refuel. Drivers and their teams communicate through a two-way radio, so pit crews can relay this information via radio.