Engine Guru: New Rules Are A Concern

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 23 2019
Doug Yates says new spacer engines could be a problem. (File photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

HAMPTON, Ga. – Engine rules for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will challenge the durability of the power plants and could affect events known as fuel mileage races, says Doug Yates, co-owner of Roush-Yates Engines.

“The taper 550 (horsepower) package is a whole new engine,” Yates says. “Everything about it is different from anything we’ve done before. It’s not a (restrictor) plate engine as we know it that we run at Daytona and Talladega today. It’s not an open engine like the taper 750 (horsepower) engine that we ran last year.”

The tapered spacer that controls the air flow to the engine will measure either 1.170 inches or 0.9218 inches (often rounded off to 0.922) this season. The use of aerodynamic ducts will be determined on a track-by-track basis as will the size of the tapered spacer. For Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the tapered spacer measures 0.921 inches. The cars aren’t equipped with aerodynamic ducts this weekend.

The new engine rules this year have required the dynamometers at the Roush-Yates facility in Mooresville, N.C., to be reprogrammed. They can simulate a race on an engine, but things have now changed in regards to what a lap looks like at a particular race track.

“In the past, we had a durability cycle for a 750 horsepower engine at all kinds of different tracks,” Yates explained. “Now we’re gathering data and programming the dynos to be able to run that lap (with a 550 horsepower engine). What we’re finding is they’re wide open throttle for 20 laps straight at a place like Las Vegas, which causes a lot of stress on different components than we have had before – pistons, rod bearings – other things that we hadn’t seen issues with. We’re having to make design changes to those components for max power and best durability.”

In addition to durability, the engine builders must also search for performance. Yates says that entails changing all of the engine’s components related to air flow – intake manifold, cylinder heads, camshaft and the exhaust system.

Yates says the fuel mileage in this year’s engine is a little worse than it was last year because there is more “wide-open throttle time”. There also is more drag on the car which requires more power.

“Strategy will be important,” Yates said. “Cars will be running closer together. Track position will be really important (with this new package). Can we optimize our fuel economy to give ourselves a bigger pit window? Maybe. Do we pit early?

“I think it will be an opportunity for some guys that maybe didn’t see the front last year to see the front this year. It’s going to be a new race and that’s what is exciting about the new package.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, February 23 2019
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