Fuel For Thought
KANNAPOLIS, N.C., (April 11, 2012) – Motorsports provides an interesting conundrum: How does a driver go all-out for the win while being efficient with some key components that propel his racecar forward, namely the engine, drivetrain and tires?
Overdrive the car and you’ll burn up the tires and burn through fuel. Underdrive the car and you’ll get passed. Where’s the balance?
The balance exists, it just happens to be on the edge of a razor blade. Thankfully for Tony Stewart and his Stewart-Haas Racing team, sponsor
Mobil 1 is also a technology partner, whose realm is to find efficiencies under the most extreme conditions, ultimately allowing Stewart to get the most out of his Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet. The on-track laboratory is why Mobil 1 is aligned with the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and why the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand is the official motor oil of NASCAR.
Highlighting this partnership is Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy adorning the hood and rear bumper of Stewart’s No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet during this weekend’s Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
The swath of green across the hood and rear bumper is more than skin deep. In promoting Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy, the scheme showcases the technology that’s transferred from a racecar’s 500 pulse-pounding miles between the high-banked corners connecting two main straightaways to a street car’s pounding of the pavement on Main Street.
In the case of Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy, the line of fully synthetic motor oils provide better fuel economy due to its lower viscosity, which means less energy is required to circulate the oil. This results in the engine being more efficient, which leaves more energy to drive the vehicle forward. For the everyday driver, Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy oils deliver up to 2 percent fuel economy improvement. That’s a savings of about six cents per gallon of fuel. (Note that $.06/gallon is based on $3/gallon gasoline. Today, the savings is more like $.08/gallon, given $4/gallon gasoline.)
Like the line of synthetic motor oils he is promoting, Stewart has proven to be incredibly efficient as well. The three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion has won seven of the last 18 Sprint Cup races dating back to September 2011. And of those seven wins, five have come at intermediate-type ovals – Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. (September 2011), Texas Motor Speedway (November 2011), Homestead-Miami Speedway (November 2011), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 2012) and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. (March 2012).
In fact, Stewart is two-for-two in the intermediate tracks visited thus far in 2012 – the 1.5-mile Las Vegas oval and the 2-mile Fontana oval.
Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 marks the third intermediate track the Sprint Cup Series will visit this season, and Stewart has to be the favorite not only because of his 2012 track record, but because of the way he won in his last visit to Texas.
Stewart dominated the AAA Texas 500 in November by leading seven times for a race-high 173 laps. His average speed of 152.705 mph made for the fastest Sprint Cup race in Texas Motor Speedway history, and it moved Stewart to within three points of leader Carl Edwards in the championship standings with just two races remaining. Stewart went on to win the championship, adding to the titles he earned in 2002 and 2005.
The victory was Stewart’s second at Texas, with his first coming in similar fashion in November 2006 when he led eight times for a race-high 278 laps.
In addition to those wins, Stewart has a pole, five top-fives, 11 top-10s and has led a total of 727 laps in his 20 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas. And in the last 14 Sprint Cup races at Texas, Stewart has the best average running position (8.525), the most laps led (712), the best average green-flag speed (173.136 mph), the second-best driver rating (105.8) and has spent a series-high 3,895 laps in the top-15 (83.1 percent).
Augmenting his Sprint Cup success at Texas, Stewart has an IROC win (April 2006) and three IZOD IndyCar Series starts that saw him lead from the pole twice en route to racking up 208 of a possible 624 laps led (33.4 percent).
Now Stewart returns to Texas on the same hot streak he started seven months ago. And with Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy emblazoned on his Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevy, Stewart is blazing his way toward another Sprint Cup title.
TONY STEWART, Driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing:
In your last 14 races at Texas, you’ve earned the second-best driver rating, had the best average running position, the best average green-flag speed , the most laps led and have run in the top-15 a series-best 83.1 percent of the time. How have you been able to adapt to Texas’ layout?
“I’ve found that you can pass anywhere, really. If you get a guy who misses the bottom of the corner and he bobbles, you can get around him. But even if someone doesn’t make a mistake and you’ve got a little better car than they do, the groove has moved up enough over the years to where the track’s a little wider, so you have more room to get a run on a guy. But, as the tires wear out and grip goes away, drivers will make mistakes and a car’s handling will become more important. And, when a guy makes a mistake, you need to be there to capitalize on it. You can really pass anywhere as long as the right opportunity comes up.”
Texas is a track where you’ve been consistently good. Does that make you more comfortable?
“Yes, absolutely. It puts you in a positive frame of mind when you go to a track knowing that you’ve run well there before.”
What is it, specifically, that makes you so comfortable at Texas?
“You have to be comfortable or you’re not going to go fast. The more comfortable I am, the faster we go. This track, the grooves have moved around, especially in the last couple of years. We’ve seen the track get wider and it’s made it to where you can move around on the racetrack and where you can run the top side or the bottom side. It’s nice from a driver’s perspective to be able to have that flexibility behind the steering wheel, knowing that if your car’s not driving exactly the way you want it to, you can move around the racetrack and find a spot the car likes better.
“Any time you put more seasons on a racetrack, the better it gets because it seems like the pavement wears out on the bottom and it makes it to where you can run the top and be fast and you can run the bottom and be fast. It makes the whole racetrack, speed-wise, about the same, versus when they pave a racetrack and the only groove is right on the bottom. The fastest way is the shortest way because it all has the same amount of grip, so the shorter distance is faster. Every year we come here, I think the racing just gets better and better, as far as being able to move around on the racetrack and guys not having to just follow each other and get stuck behind each other. You can actually pass. You can race. You can get away from guys if your car’s fast.”
A lot of drivers talk about turn two at Texas, where it feels like the banking falls out from underneath them. Can you describe that sensation?
“It does. The entry and exit of these corners, they’re very abrupt as far as the banking. When you turn in the corner, it’s very abrupt getting in and falls off very quickly. The reason for that, when they built Texas Motor Speedway, they intended to have the Indy cars race on the apron. That’s why the apron is so wide at Texas. The Indy cars were not originally meant to run on the banking. That’s why the banking on the entry of the corner and exit falls off so fast, so the cars could come from the straightaway from the apron and back up with a smooth transition from the bottom. It makes it a different challenge than what we have at Charlotte or Atlanta because of that. It does make it a lot more challenging to get your car set up for it. You can’t relax on the entry and you can’t relax on the exit of the corner. A lot of times, it’s hard to get your car secure on the entry because you don’t have that banking to hold it. Once you get in the corner, it seems like it’s all right. Same thing happens on the exit. Turn two is the tighter of the two exits of the racetrack. You’re still trying to finish the corner there and you have to keep tugging on the steering wheel and, at the same time, make sure you don’t lose the back (of the car). It definitely falls out from under you. When it does, you have to make sure your car is tight enough to make it through that transition.”
Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy fully synthetic motor oils are engineered to deliver outstanding engine protection and provide improved fuel economy. In racing, how does a driver influence fuel economy?
“I’ve lost a lot more fuel-mileage races than I’ve won. They’re hard. It’s typically a battle between the driver and the crew chief. The crew chief is yelling at you every lap to save fuel, but you’re not slowing down enough and he knows it because he’s looking at the stopwatch.
“It seems a lot of times, everyone running up front is trying to save fuel, and when that happens, you’re in a situation where your speed is dictated off the guy behind you and not off of what you can do. It’s a different style of racing. It’s hard. It’s just as hard, if not tougher, than trying to run 100 percent.”