Team Chevy EFI Kentucky Test Quotes

Kentucky Speedway

In preparation for the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway this weekend, competitors will participate in an extended practice & testing session today, Thursday, July 7, to prepare for the Quaker State 400. During this session, teams and manufacturers have the opportunity to test the development of electronic fuel injection (EFI) in the first official test on a NASCAR sanctioned track. There will be further testing and development throughout 2011 to prepare for entry into the sport full time beginning February 2012 at the Daytona 500.

Aric Almirola
Aric Almirola

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Statement from Jim Campbell, GM U.S. Vice President Performance Vehicles and Motorsports regarding the first official EFI test on a NASCAR-sanctioned track: "The test at Kentucky Speedway is another step toward the introduction of fuel injection for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. One of our key priorities at Chevrolet is to incorporate relevant technologies into our race cars that link to our production cars. The use of fuel injection in NASCAR competition will improve engine efficiency without compromising performance.

Statement from Pat Suhy, GM Racing NASCAR Group Manager, regarding the first official EFI test on a NASCAR-sanctioned track: “The change to fuel injection in 2012 is another step that NASCAR is taking to increase the relevance of technology in the Sprint Cup Series. Every small block Chevrolet engine is port fuel injected. That same technology will now be applied to the Chevy R07 engine that’s been so successful in NASCAR in carbureted form.

“Our GM Powertrain NASCAR engine engineers have worked to design and validate new fuel injection specific intake manifolds. They have added provisions for mounting the injectors and the fuel rail, and have optimized the runner designs.

“This first official NASCAR track test at Kentucky Speedway is an opportunity for our engine builders to see how their systems and calibrations perform in an environment that’s as close to race conditions as they’ve been run. Teams will mount additional sensors similar to what’s on the production engines, to monitor several functions that the new engine control units (ECU) need to control fuel and spark delivery. There are oxygen sensors to monitor the air-fuel ratio, a throttle position sensor, cam and crank position sensors to control injection and spark timing, to name just a few.

“During the test, every supplier with a new component on the engines will be on hand to see how their parts perform, and to address concerns and issues. The engine tuners will be exercising the trackside tools, now laptops instead of carburetor jets and distributor wrenches, which will be used on race weekends to tune the engines.

“NASCAR will be learning too. They have the job of inspecting and measuring critical engine components on every car, every weekend. This will be their inspectors’ first opportunity to observe several teams’ set-ups in one place and to undergo the inspection process. It’s going to be a busy day for everyone involved, and is a critical step in making sure that everything runs smoothly when we see the first fuel injected race in 2012.”



IS THIS FIRST TEST ON A NASCAR-SANCTIONED RACE TRACK ABOUT WHAT YOU EXPECTED? “I think so. I think we have about six outings so far. We’ve been just working with some tuning issues which we would think would be typical for this car and this track and kind of our first experience about throttle tip-in and drivability and some things. We made some changes during the break to try some different packages and go forward. So everything so far has been really smooth.”

EXPLAIN WHAT THE DRIVER DOES TO HELP DURING THE TEST AND HOW YOU ADJUST FUEL INJECTION FOR HIS DRIVING STYLE ‘What we’re working through is a feel of years of experience from drivers from a carburetor. Be it good or bad, be it some inherent things there with the carburetor that when you work with them for 30 years in this type of racing that you get pretty good at it; and the driver gets a feel that he likes with it. And the carburetor is kind of tuned to his liking. When you get here with fuel injection and you start working within the fuel injection system to where you actually have a fuel cut-off so to speak, under partial throttle conditions; and do when you turn that back on and how much fuel do you put in the engine when you turn that back on; just getting used to those perimeters and the sensitivity of it and running through different fuel maps during this test to get the driver’s feedback. What we’re trying to come away with here today is just a baseline of a good test. We’ve got a matrix of things to go through. Whether the change is good or bad, we just want to know that the direction we went had an impact and then we can sit down and talk about future testing plans.”

DO YOU ADJUST THE EFI TO WORK WITH EACH DRIVER’S STYLE? “We’re working here today with Aric Almirola from the Nationwide Series. We’re using Aric because we’re familiar with his feedback from being involved with him in the engine program on the NNS side with JR Motorsports. Again, we just tried to start with a very basic set-up for him, fuel-wise and drivability-wise, and we made some minor changes and some that were very aggressive. We’re just trying to get a feel of the sensitivity. If it were Jimmie Johnson, would that change significantly? Sure. That’s very possible that he would have a different opinion than Aric would. But really, we’re not really interested at this point in having say four or six individual tune-ups so to speak, per driver. We’re just working with the system, for really the first time in an at-track environment and trying to understand. It’s like we’ve got this new toy, right; and we’ve got 100 knobs here to turn, so which ones are the sensitive ones? And when we come back, I’m sure we’ll do things differently. There’s always got to be a first time and we’re just trying to work through a consistent matrix here of tests.”

DOES THIS REQUIRE DIFFERENT EQUIPMENT, LIKE LAPTOPS, TO MANAGE AT THE TRACK; AND IS IT COMPLICATED? “I don’t know that it’s complicated. It’s a change. It’s a great progression in technology for our sport. We welcome it. We’re excited about the challenge of going from a carbureted environment to where you come in here and you read the weather and look at the track conditions and you make changes to your carburetor and your ignition timing based on the way the weather is. Obviously with the fuel injection systems that have been supplied, that’s going to do that for you now automatically in terms of making the changes based on the water temp and the barometric pressure and different things. What we will input into it via our laptops say on Sunday morning or say for example a qualifying versus a race set-up is different fuel trims and different spark trims for a qualifying application versus a different mapping procedure for the race.”

WHAT CAN THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP FANS EXPECT TO SEE WITH THE IMPLEMENTATION OF FUEL INJECTION? “From the fans side, they will not notice anything different. Maybe one of the biggest things that a fan would notice is a lot of times you get a lot of questions like, ‘What’s that big blue flame coming out of the right side of the car when the driver gets off the throttle or goes into the corner at Martinsville?’ That’s just fuel that has spilled out of the carburetor and gone through the engine in an off-throttle condition and is being burned out the exhaust pipe. You won’t see that any more. They’ll be some good efficiency gains that are being made there with this fuel system in terms of fuel economy. But in terms of performance, the power levels between a carbureted and a fuel-injected engine are very close; so you won’t see a dramatic increase in lap times. The car is still going to sound the same. It’s still a Chevrolet R07 fuel-injected racing engine and they’ll be no difference there for the fan.”

WHAT WILL HAPPEN WHEN A HOT DOG WRAPPER GETS STUCK ON THE GRILL DURING A RACE? “One of the things about this system is that it does have the capability as water temperatures start going up, say for example from a hot dog wrapper on the grill, the system can start to enrich the motor based on that temperature increase and maybe buy you a few more laps of protection. It’s definitely not going to do anything to take the away the situation that might occur, but there are some protective systems in place that might help the engine get through the race.”

THIS IS A PRETTY BIG CHANGE FOR THE SPORT “Oh, yes; we’re all excited. We’re excited about the technology. Our partners at Chevrolet have been a tremendous help to us in guiding us through this and helping us make this first step. So what we hope is that this is a good tool. It brings our level of racing closer to the level of technology that exists within our manufacturer at GM and Chevrolet.”



YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW THE TEST FOR THE ELECTRONIC FUEL INJECTION (EFI) IS GOING FOR THE FIRST TIME ON A NASCAR SANCTIONED TRACK: “It is going very well. We are setting the transient characteristics of the engine. That is how it works when you get into the throttle and out of the throttle because that is where fueling becomes a challenge is when you’re having rapid changes in the throttle position. That is what we are spending most of our time working on is the calibration for when they are letting off the throttle and getting on the throttle.”

HOW MANY SENSORS ARE THERE GIVING YOU THE READINGS FROM THE TESTING? “There is many sensors on this vehicle. Compared to a carbureted engine, there are in race, there will be an additional eight to 10 sensors, but for testing here, we have more than that. We have double that probably.”

THE DATA ARE YOU ARE GETTING TODAY, DO YOU USE IT RIGHT AWAY TO CONTINUE THROUGH THE TEST OR TAKE MOST OF IT BACK TO CONTINE TO ANALYZE AND WORK WITH IT? “Both. We record data in such a way that we can go back and replay exactly what the engine saw here on the track. We can replay that on the dynamometer in a laboratory setting. We can replicate everything we are doing here in the lab with better sensors and better repeatability so we can look in depth at exactly what we saw that we think we can improve on.”

NASCAR’S GOAL IS TO HAVE A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD WITH THE EFI, WHAT LATITUDE DO YOU HAVE CONTINUE TO LOOK FOR MORE HORSEPOWER? “We are actually quite happy with the system because it has considerable room for invention; for science. Certainly there is room for people to do it better than other people. We would like to think that whenever we have an opportunity to excel, then that is what we will do.”

WE HAVE TO STEP OUT OF THE CARBURETOR BOX AT SOME POINT, BUT ARE THE COSTS SOMEWHAT OF A CONCERN WITH THE EFI PROGRAM? “You can look at costs in two ways. You can look at the dollars that it costs to implement the technology. But then you also have to look at the benefits that you derive from it and make a value judgment on whether it is a good thing or a bad thing to do. We are certainly in full support of it being a good thing to. It adds technical relevance to these engines compared to what is production on the street now. Every small block engine that is on the street is fuel injected and these are going to be fuel injected small blocks as well.”

SO IT PORTED FOR FUEL INJECTED LIKE A CHEVY ON THE STREET? “Yes, just like a Corvette. Port fuel injection is what all small blocks on the road in passenger cars are and that is what this is going to be. So it adds more technical relevance to what we do for the manufacturer. It improves the fuel efficiency of these engines and reduces emissions.”

DO YOU THINK THIS ADDS MORE MARKETABILITY AND MORE WIDELY APPEALING TO FANS? “It certainly makes it a lot closer to the production. They are called stock cars and it makes them a lot closer to what is stock and the engines that are sold. From that standpoint, there are probably are some people that will relate to it a little more.”

TALK ABOUT THE NEW EQUIPMENT YOU WILL BE USING FOR EFI: “It’s really interesting. Historically, we always have one engine tuner that goes with each engine with every car to all of the races. And that engine tuner, his talent or his skill, is to take feedback from a driver and convert that into a mechanical change that he might make to the engine to make it better. Now what we are having to do is take feedback from a driver and convert that to a software change on a laptop that then gets put into the engine to address whatever concern or whatever area the driver feels like can be improved. It’s really an upgrading of the skill sets and it is a kind of different approach to each weekend when you are at the track. How to get the most out of what we have.”

THE DRIVER WILL FEEL A DIFFERENCE? “Oh certainly and that is what we are doing today. It’s not necessarily clear looking at data on a screen what is good and what is bad, so, we have different drivers driving the car giving us their subjective feel of ‘yea, I really like that’ or ‘I don’t’.”

SO IT WILL BE DIFFERENT FOR EVERY DRIVER BASED ON THEIR STYLE OF DRIVING? “Yes, there will be. In very much the same way as cars are setup differently for different drivers now, it is very possible that calibrations will setup differently for different drivers.”

HAVE YOU HAD TO HIRE NEW STAFF? “No. We may in the end-up hiring one person But Earnhardt Childress Racing started participating in the Daytona Prototype Series a year ago and that is fuel injected NASCAR Grand-Am Series. One of our main reasons for choosing to participate in that series was to increase our knowledge of fuel injection and calibration and to upgrade the skill set of our engineers. We are taking the people that have been working on Daytona Prototype now and using them in the Cup program. We feel like that gave us a good head-start. So, no, we are not actively pursuing additional people. We are doing it with what we have.”

HOW MUCH DO YOU EXPECT TO LEARN BEFORE WE ACTUALLY GO TO DAYTONA IN 2012? IS THERE STILL A LOT TO BE DONE? HAVE YOU BEEN ABLE TO LEARN A LOT IN THE SHOP OR DO YOU NEED MORE OF THIS VALUABLE TEST TIME ON TRACK? “Oh my goodness, yes. We have very sophisticated test facilities in the shop. We try to replace testing to a large extent with facilities that actually allow us to be more repeatable and more accurate in what we do. But, nevertheless, there are things that happen at a track. For instance, G-Forces on the engine and on the car as you go around a corner that you can’t do in a laboratory. The track time is invaluable to us. So, yes, there will a number of additional track sessions between now and Daytona. NASCAR is going to have probably two or three more in conjunction with events that they are sponsoring. But we’ll also be going to non-NASCAR sanction tracks and doing additional testing.”

WHAT WILL THE FANS IN THE GRANDSTANDS SEE THAT IS DIFFERENT WHEN THEY ARE WATCHING A RACE? WILL THE CARS GO FASTER? “No, NASCAR has selected components to keep the power level very close to the same as it has been. From a driver’s perspective, they should like this much more because it will be smoother so it will idle better, they’ll have more control when they are coming in and out of the corners because it will put more emphasis on their skill as opposed to managing variability of the engine. Things you used to see that maybe had a lot of ‘G-Whiz” value like flames coming out of the tailpipes as cars went around the corner, that is un-burnt fuel that is escaping the combustion process and leaving the exhaust. It is very inefficient but might be kind of fun to look at. That will probably go away. Should go away because now we have much better control over the fuel mixture and we shouldn’t get in situations where we are pumping un-burnt fuel through the engine.

“From a fan standpoint, they really won’t notice much difference, but there will a lot of difference inside the car. It won’t sound any different.”

CAN MISTAKES BE MADE IN THE PROGRAMMING THAT LEADS TO ENGINE ISSUES? “Hopefully this actually reduces the number of reduces the number of engine failures because by having improved control over fuel and spark, we should be able to operate the engine in a regime where it is much happier for virtually everything it does. Whereas when you have a carburetor, that is harder to do. For instance right now with the carbureted engine, if you get a piece of paper on the grill and the water temperature goes up, then if the driver isn’t looking or just doesn’t want to come in, then you can have engine failure fairly soon from overheating. What we can do now, because we are measuring water temperature, we can, as the temperature goes up, we can retard the spark or we can do things on the engine side that will reduce the power output of the engine and either make it where the driver wants to come in because the thing is going so slow or will protect the engine from failure.”

YOU CAN DO THAT DURING THE RACE? “Yes, that will be part of the calibration. It has a sensor in the water so as the water temperature goes up then some other control function of the engine will retard spark or will do something else to the engine to limit the performance as the temperatures rising to keep the engine from expiring. This happens automatically. This is the nice thing about having computer control of an engine as opposed to mechanical control.”

By: team chevy

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Aric Almirola , Jim Campbell
Teams JR Motorsports
Tags chevrolet, kentucky electronic fuel injection, nascar, nscs, sprint cup