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Racin’ News: NASCAR To Dump Carburetors

| , RacinToday.com Friday, February 11 2011

Dale Earnhardt's number will be back on cars at Daytona. See second note for details. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

In racin’ news today, Friday, Feb. 11:

NASCAR announced today a technology partnership with Freescale Semiconductor and McLaren Electronic Systems to develop and integrate fuel injection systems into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, targeted for the 2012 season.

Freescale will provide the processors for McLaren’s engine control units that will be used to manage the fuel and ignition systems in the engines for all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars, replacing carburetors which have been used in the series since its inception in 1949. NASCAR and its top series teams will test the technology during the 2011 season with the anticipation of the systems being rolled out for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

The announcement marks the most significant strategic change to NASCAR’s engine platform in decades. As part of this program, Freescale is designated as the “Official Automotive Semiconductor of NASCAR” and McLaren the “Official Engine Control Unit of NASCAR.”

“This move gives us an additional opportunity to incorporate the best technology in our race cars that will enhance the sport in a variety of ways,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of

Restrictor plates are about to become relics. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

competition. “Selecting these two industry leaders reflects our commitment to this new technology which our manufacturers and teams have embraced. This is a positive step that will provide greater fuel efficiency and a greener footprint while maintaining the same great competition we have seen on the race track.”

For decades, most of the parts and equipment on NASCAR race cars have been highly customized for racing but at the same time relevant in standard automobiles. This move to fuel injection brings back an important synergy between these two vehicle types.

ECUs maximize each racing team’s ability to get the most performance and best fuel economy under all race conditions. With this announcement, plans call for every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race team to use a control system with Freescale’s advanced 32-bit Power Architecture® based engine management processors at its core, beginning in 2012. These same processors power millions of today’s most energy efficient engines.

The ECUs are tamper-proof, ensuring that only approved software may ever be run during a race weekend. Additionally, NASCAR will have special electronic tools at its disposal during every event to ensure the legality of all ECUs.

“Freescale’s partnership with NASCAR and McLaren goes beyond a simple business relationship,” said Henri Richard, senior vice president and chief sales and marketing officer at Freescale Semiconductor. “It reflects our shared values in the automotive industry and our common dedication to technology improvement, high performance, energy efficiency and leadership in safety. It also continues to demonstrate the success of the Power Architecture as the leading microcontroller architecture in the automotive segment. NASCAR trusts us to provide cutting-edge automotive solutions for the next generation of engine management. Our products and technology will power every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race car next year and we are honored to be the sole automotive semiconductor provider for America’s largest motorsport.”

Since 1966, McLaren has a legacy of racing success in the United States, totaling 43 victories during its tenure in the Can-Am Challenge, 10 wins at the U.S. Grand Prix and three wins at the illustrious Indianapolis 500. In addition, McLaren Electronics Systems has been a supplier to NASCAR teams since 2005 and also provides the ECUs that will be available late summer 2011 in the McLaren MP4-12C high-performance sports car. Freescale technology has been at the heart of McLaren’s engine control and data systems racing technology since 2000 and it provides the power behind all of McLaren’s major racing programs. Freescale is the largest U.S. based producer of automotive electronics and its technology enables virtually all automotive innovation in use today, from advanced engine systems to navigation and active safety.

“We are excited to build on our existing relationships with NASCAR and Freescale for this critical technology,” said Peter van Manen, managing director, McLaren Electronic Systems Limited. “McLaren has been providing reliable, high performance electronics to professional motorsports and other high performance automotive applications in North America, Europe and Asia for more than 20 years and we are both proud and delighted to be bringing our ECU technology into NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.”

Jamie Allison, director of Ford North America Motorsports “We fully support the move to fuel injection in NASCAR. It’s been a topic of discussion by the manufacturers and NASCAR for a number of years, and we’re pleased to see it progressing forward. Our Ford fans want to see more brand identity and relevant technologies in the cars we race in NASCAR; so we think it’s very important that both the cars and the technology in NASCAR are more closely related to production cars. The move to fuel injection is another important step in that process.”

Doug Yates, chief engine builder, Roush Yates Engines, said, “It’s a big change for our sport and it’s an exciting time to be an engine guy. We’ve had these carburetors for many years, so the move to fuel injection is really something we welcome. We look forward to working with NASCAR over the next month to get prepared for the 2012 season and now that we know there are some official partners and a clear direction, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun getting prepared. These carburetors have done a good job for a long time, but we think fuel injection can help us tune each cylinder more precisely and probably clean up some emissions off-throttle, which is good and healthy for the sport. When you also consider the change NASCAR made this year with the E15 fuel, the sport is definitely heading in the right direction and doing some really good things.”

Richard Childress Racing and Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines will pay tribute to the life and legacy of the legendary Dale Earnhardt throughout 2011 Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway.

Commemorative No. 3 decals will adorn all eight of RCR’s race cars, transporters and pit boxes. ECR employees will wear special ECR/No. 3 hats at the track throughout Speedweeks while RCR employees will wear special RCR/No. 3 hats February 18.

“All of us at RCR and ECR are honored to pay tribute to Dale on this 10th anniversary,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing and Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines. “His legacy is still felt every day at RCR, ECR and throughout the world. We hope all of Dale’s fans appreciate this salute to their hero and ours.”

The No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet has been adorned with a small No. 3 decal since Kevin Harvick assumed the driving duties of RCR’s former No. 3 Chevrolet in the second race of the 2001 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season after Earnhardt’s passing at Daytona on February 18, 2001.

NASCAR announced today that it has placed Michael Annett, driver of the No. 62 car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, on probation until Dec. 31, 2011.

Annett violated Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2011 NASCAR Rule Book. The violation occurred Feb. 6.

In addition to the steps already underway by Rusty Wallace Racing, Annett will be evaluated by a certified substance abuse professional at NASCAR’s discretion and will be subject to random alcohol and drug testing.

Conquest Racing will give an up and coming driver the opportunity to test her skills behind the wheel of an Indy car when Pippa Mann takes part in a one-day test at Texas Motor Speedway on February 28.

The test will be the first in an Indy car for the London born race car driver who has competed in

Pippa Mann will get a test from Conquest.

Firestone Indy Lights the past two seasons. Mann made history in 2010 by becoming the first woman to qualify on pole at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy Lights Freedom 100.

“It feels like it has been an extremely long off season this winter, and I cannot wait to finally get back behind the wheel of a race car,” said Mann. “We have been working exceptionally hard throughout the off-season on putting together a program for me to run in the IZOD IndyCar Series, and while our main focus has been on the Indy 500, we would obviously like to run as many of the 2011 races as is possible. We are most likely now looking at a full oval program, which will hopefully bridge the gap to a full-time drive in the series in 2012.

“The upcoming test will serve as my rookie test for the IZOD IndyCar Series, and also work as a good preparation for the program we are trying to put together. Eric Bachelart and Conquest Racing have been especially interested in what we are trying to achieve, and I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to drive one of their cars.”

Mann has racing experience on both sides of the Atlantic – having competed in the World Series by Renault and the Firestone Indy Lights Series. She raced in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2007 and 2008, where she became the first female to start from pole, and score a championship point in the series.

“I’ve watched Pippa race in the Indy Lights series and she’s constantly progressed over the course of the two seasons. I’m pleased to be able to give her the opportunity to drive Indy cars for the first time and I can’t wait to see how she will perform behind the wheel of the Dallara. From a team perspective it will be a special moment as she will be the first woman to test with us. I’m looking forward to it,” concluded Conquest Racing team owner Eric Bachelart.

In 2009, Mann competed in the Firestone Indy Lights Series with Panther Racing, securing three top ten finishes during her debut year. The following season she moved to Sam Schmidt Motorsports with whom she inscribed her name in the Indianapolis history books.

That same year, despite breaking her hand during practice for the Toronto 100, Mann took her first Firestone Indy Lights victory just seven weeks later at Kentucky Speedway – where she led the race from start to finish. Mann scored three pole positions, four top five finishes, and a dominant win during the 2010 season, seeing the young Brit finish fifth in the driver’s championship.

(This story will be updated as news breaks today)

| , RacinToday.com Friday, February 11 2011
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