NASCAR: New E15 Fuel Brings Changes to Pit Road

Camille JonesContributor IIIJanuary 23, 2011

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JANUARY 22:  New and improved fuel cans make their debut at Daytona International Speedway on January 22, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

As the 2011 season quickly approaches, the many changes NASCAR has under its belt are becoming more and more a reality.

Between the possible new points system and the changes to where a driver can reach for a championship, the changes in the garage and on pit road have become insignificant to some. 

During Preseason Thunder at Daytona, Sunoco released its new E15 ethanol-blended race fuel to Sprint Cup teams, the fuel used throughout the winter test, and it will continue to be used from now until the next fuel change is implemented. 

A sign of the changes was initially the fuel cans. The change in fuel and fuel cans brings the elimination of the catch can man, as the new fuel can has a self-venting dump. The cans hold is a slightly different style, but their purpose is identically the same—to fill 'er up. On the new can, the self-venting apparatus and filler tube each detach, revealing sealed caps used to protect the fuel from outside exposure or moisture.

Throughout testing, teams saw issues during fueling, trying not to spill the gas as it was being released into the car. With the new spout and fuel-can size, it will be a battle for teams to learn quickly, but with practice, the process will become as simple as it used to be.

Another issue that has risen is the pit road "strategy," or the man over the wall jobs. In usual circumstances, the catch can man would make changes to the car, such as adding or taking out wedges or adjusting the track bar, but with his removal, the tasks would fall on the shoulders of another man over the wall who has yet to be determined.

Many have questioned why NASCAR has removed the catch can man, and overall it seems to be a safety reason. With the catch can man located at the end of one car, and the nose of another, the liklihood of them being knocked to the ground is very high, and by eliminating that factor, the risk of a man being hit square-on drops dramatically.