Dakota corn growers attending the NASCAR race Sunday in Kansas City were enthusiastic about the promotion of ethanol at the event.
"It's a great venue," said Bart Schott, Kulm, N.D., president of the National Corn Growers Association. NASCAR has 80 to 100 million fans and draws more attendance than any other sporting event. Many fans are interested in with automobile performance – on an off the race.
"That makes NASCAR is a perfect match for getting the facts out about ethanol," added Darrin Ihnen, Hurley, S.D., NCGA chairman.
Corn grower associations nationwide have joined America Ethanol, an industry group, in a partnership to promote ethanol at all the NASCAR races this year. The cars are running on an E15 fuel blend from Sunco – a U.S. oil company that also owns ethanol plants.
At the race Sunday, one of the Richard Childress Racing's cars, No. 33 driven by Kansas native Clint Bowyer, was painted in American Ethanol colors and carried its logo.
The two Dakota corn association leaders say that they hope that because of the promotion with NASCAR, when NASCAR fans hear critics say that ethanol is bad for engines they can say, "no that's not true – the sprint cars ran on them all year."
The winners of the Kansas race Sunday endorsed the E15 fuel.
At the post-race press conference Penske Racing Team Crew Chief Paul Wolfe said he's seen no change in performance of the cars since the series switched to ethanol this year.
"Seemed to be a pretty good fuel for us today," said Wolfe, who engineered the fuel-saving strategy that gave them the victory.
Team owner Roger Penkse said, "the reliability is there, the fuel mileage is there and you can see the performance, so I think it's a win-win for everyone."
Driver Brad Keselowski said he hadn't noticed any difference with in the car with ethanol. "It's just an added benefit that (ethanol) comes from America," he said. "That's really cool."
Tom Buis, fromer president of the National Farmers Union and current CEO of Growth Energy – an ethanol industry trade group – was at the race Sunday. He said he hopes that the NASCAR promotion will pay off at the pump and in the halls of Congress.
Ethanol improves the farm economy, creates jobs and saves consumers money on fuel, he said.
"No sport is more American than NASCAR and is no fuel more American than ethanol," he said.