Drivers await fuel injection data

Updated: March 16, 2012, 6:32 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle were anxious to see the Electronic Fuel Injection data that made Tony Stewart so fast on restarts following last week's win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

They will have to wait at least two more weeks -- or they may not get that data at all.

Sprint Cup Series director John Darby said on Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway that officials remain a few weeks from releasing EFI data and determining exactly what data will be released.

But Darby was skeptical that the information, regardless of what is released, will help one driver improve on restarts.

"It's not about what a guy is doing with his throttle on a restart," Darby said. "It's more about how the fuel maps and the original run tables that were set up for the race.

"The purpose of it is to help educate the entire garage on what's good for fuel strategies and what's not. It's not about pinpointing every time someone stepped on the brake. Or when somebody had their foot to the floor. They can get that off the TV telemetry now."

Darby said the data collection should be completed in a few weeks, giving teams a sample of a restrictor plate race, two short tracks and a couple of mile-and-a-half tracks.

"Once we get the tables like we want them, we'd be able to send every race,'' Darby said. "Typically, we download everything sitting on pit road after the race."

But several drivers believe the mapping -- a program for delivering fuel to the engine -- as for how it shows throttle traces, could educate them on how to improve on restarts in addition to saving fuel.

They also were skeptical about NASCAR releasing everything, arguing some secrets shouldn't be shared.

"It's kind of like this," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "If you have a video game and everybody knows how to win, how fun is that? Keep the challenge in it without giving away all the answers."

Carl Edwards agreed.

"What we do with the pedals and steering wheel and all that stuff is our proprietary stuff," he said. "From NASCAR's perspective, I can see how they would want everyone to not have an advantage and keep feeding everyone information to make it tougher and closer.

"With the fuel mileage things and different things, there have been times I thought there were things I did in the car that I wouldn't want anyone else to see."

Darby argued there are no secrets and he's not sure throttle traces would be relevant regardless.

"I don't know if they can record that electronically," he said. "That didn't have anything to do with the operation of the engine or the fuel injection. That's gearing and the transmission, and Tony anticipating where he was going to start. None of that is relevant to fuel injection."

Darby acknowledged there have been minor issues with EFI through the first three races, but nothing to set off alarms. He said Brad Keselowski's issue at Las Vegas was a failed fuel pump.

"We've got out of the habit of blanketing fuel injection, because it's almost as bad as saying did he have a problem with his race car," Darby said. "He had a fuel pump fail. Well, we had fuel pumps today and fuel pumps with carburetors.

"I'm a little defensive probably because everything wants to fall in the lap of fuel injection, where 99 percent of the problems that we've had up to this point in the year have nothing to do with fuel injection."

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter