NASCAR has announced its intention to use E15 in a wide spectrum of race vehicles starting in 2011 according to a press release. You'll remember that just three years ago, NASCAR still used leaded fuels, which had been banned from passenger vehicles for decades.
CEO of NASCAR, Brian France, was quoted as saying "American ethanol creates jobs in the United States, helps foster energy independence and continues the greening of our sport."
While NASCAR prepares to use E15 fuels, the IndyCar Series already had adopted use of 100% ethanol as its official fuel. NASCAR had been testing the use of E15 blended gasoline since early May. Teams have been testing the use throughout the season.
Why the switch? Well, with the increased octane rating of E15, teams can likely switch to a cheaper fuel than unleaded race gas. Unleaded racing gas costs several dollars more per gallon, while E15 is expected to cost much less. Octane ratings will likely be very comparable.
While this may be somewhat good news for some, the timing of the announcement is quite interesting. E15 will mean lower fuel efficiency for passenger vehicles and confusion at the pump. E15 had recently just been approved for use in 2007 and newer vehicles by the EPA. While E15 is popular only with ethanol producing states, businesses in those states have been busy lobbying politicians and government agencies.
Bottom line? Good for NASCAR, but embracing the fuel at a retail pump is different.