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Ethanol gains power on NASCAR tracks

Ethanol gains power on NASCAR tracks


E15 is fuelling an increase in horsepower in NASCAR’s national top three series (NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series), says Mike Lynch, managing director, NASCAR Green Innovation. “After several months of dyno lab and track testing, we’ve seen a five to eight percent increase in horsepower,” says Lynch about Sunoco Green E15, which NASCAR has used since the start of the 2011 racing season.


Sunoco Green E15’s ethanol component is produced at Sunoco’s ethanol production plant in Fulton, NY. It is then trucked to Sunoco’s Marcus Hook, PA, facility where it is blended with a high octane unleaded gasoline. (Please see accompanying diagram.) This Sunoco center concentrates specifically on racing fuels. 



“Sunoco manages everything that goes into the fuel so that NASCAR drivers can be confident their fuel is the best available,” says Thomas Golembeski, Sunoco’s manager of corporate communications. Once the fuel has been blended and tested, it is pumped into Sunoco’s fleet of trucks which then transports it to the various NASCAR racing venues, including Darlington Raceway in Darlington, SC, which hosts this Saturday’s race.


Sunoco has redesigned the iconic Sunoco red fuel cans used at NASCAR races into a closed system so that the E15 fuel is not exposed to ambient air, Golembeski says. Prior to Sunoco Green E15, NASCAR vehicles were powered with Sunoco’s 260GTX 98 octane unleaded gas.


Nearly all of the corn used to produce the ethanol is sourced within a relatively short distance of Fulton, located in north central New York.


NASCAR puts ethanol in the limelight, and it reaffirms NASCAR’s commitment to conservation. Along with using E15, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent over conventional unleaded gasoline, NASCAR has instituted green building, recycling and tree-planting programs.


“In addition to putting us squarely on our conservation focus, ethanol helps create American jobs and strengthens our energy independence,” NASCAR’s Lynch says.


Lynch adds that NASCAR is a family sport and a family enterprise and that the American Ethanol partnership (comprised of NASCAR, Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association) is in itself a family. “The people we’ve met working with Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association—farmers and ethanol plant employees—take pride in their jobs and we feel comfortable standing side by side with them,” Lynch says. “And everyone came together to do the testing and provide a seamless transition to the use of E15.”


The American Ethanol partnership, a six-year agreement, is supporting NASCAR drivers, teams and race tracks with several marketing activities. American Ethanol will participate in NASCAR’s Prize Money & Decal Program, also known as the contingency program, with the creation of the “American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award” in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. It will also provide weekly prize money for eligible competitors in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series based on finishing position. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekly award will be given to the participating driver who records the fastest average speed on restarts and who finishes the race on the lead lap.


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