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NASCAR CEO Brian France: ‘Significant’ changes coming to Sprint Cup engine size, horsepower

Apr 2, 2014, 3:51 PM EDT

Brian France AP

Taking a cue from Formula One, which reduced its engine size and accompanying horsepower for this season, NASCAR is likely headed in the same direction for either 2015 or 2016.

NASCAR chairman/CEO Brian France told Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday that engine modifications are on the horizon, and that will likely include a decrease in horsepower.

NASCAR motors currently churn out about 850 horsepower.

“We’re going to make that happen, and that’s part of the overall rules packages that we design that hopefully control costs, hopefully make the racing better,” France said. “The engine is an integral part of that.

“We also have to be in step as much as possible with the car manufacturers and where they’re going with technology and different things. It all has to come together, and that’s the next significant part of the rules package. … The engine will get a significant change. I’m not going to say (for) ’15, but we are certainly sizing that up. It’s very important for us to get that right.”

Such a change mirrors what F1 did this year, and adds to NASCAR adopting the F1-style so-called “knockout” qualifying that was put into place this season.

According to NASCAR.com, France and other top officials have already begun discussions with all three manufacturers in the Sprint Cup Series, much like talks that were held prior to the implementation of the Gen 6 car last season.

“The approach that we took on the development of the Gen‑6, we’re using a very collaborative approach between the manufacturers and NASCAR from the sanctioning body’s perspective on really discussing what are the options, what are the ideas, and in the end depending on where that ends up, it will impact how much work happens at the manufacturer versus the teams,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president for Chevrolet performance vehicles and motorsports. “The key is we keep the racing exciting, and then we make every resource we apply to the engines and the engine builds go as far possible. That’s really the key.”

If and when the proposed engine changes do come about, it would be the first significant alteration in several years.

NASCAR has spent the last seven years focused more so on vehicle design and aerodynamic modifications, starting first with the introduction of the so-called Car of Tomorrow in 2007, and then the Gen 6 last season.

There were further aerodynamic changes implemented this season to continue refinements and improvement of the Gen 6.

That’s why it’s not a surprise there have been six different winners in the first six Sprint Cup races this season, with Chevrolet winning three, Ford two and Toyota one.

“I’ll tell you, here in the first six races, it’s been some of the most fantastic and spectacular racing that we have seen,” said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing.

France indicated that the methodical development of the chassis and aerodynamic tweaks have gotten closer to what NASCAR originally envisioned.

And while more tweaks to the chassis may still occur, it’s time to focus on the powerplant to further make the racing as close as possible.

“We’ve made some gains,” France said. “Part of it is making the car easier to drive, better to drive. That’s part of it. But we’re not, candidly, where we’re going to be in a year or two.

“We know exactly what we’re trying to do with the rules package. We think the (Chase) format is something we can build on for the next 10 or 15 years, or longer.

“We don’t want to change things just because we feel like it. It’s always difficult …. So I love the general direction we’re at. We’re past the majority of the changes, and now we can build on where we’re at.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

 

  1. testover6370 - Apr 2, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    It is a really good time to be an Indycar fan.

    ““We also have to be in step as much as possible with the car manufacturers and where they’re going with technology and different things.” Says the leader of the series that just discovered the magic of fuel injection a year or two ago.

    • cobobbles - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:14 PM

      Pure comedy gold!

    • Harrell T. Wilson, Sr. Pastor - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:41 PM

      I am losing interest in Nascar
      car all together. Its nothing but a piece of tin, with great motors running round and around. Would like to see them get back to racing just regular real cars like they use to in the old days.

  2. bmcgrath2 - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:03 PM

    Should be interesting what the mad scientist cooks up here.

    Here’s the logical way to reduce horsepower and overall engine costs while maintaining historical integrity of NASCAR V8 power and sound.

    1. Reduce max displacement from 358 cu in to 330 cu in
    2. Implement a rev limiter of 8500 rpm
    3. Reduce compression ratio to 11:1 – 11.5:1 range
    4. Over-head cam valve train

    The problem with the Cup engines is that they are revving way too high compared to how they were 10-15 years ago. They can reduce costs without making “drastic” changes to the power plant by lowering the RPM range of these engines, and reducing the number of moving parts.

    But I am sure Brian France has a plan to completely destroy a solid foundation and force the engine builders into starting from scratch. I am very nervous with what this guy has in mind. Is hybrid technology on his mind? Cylinder reduction? Turbochargers?

    Unfortunately, with Mr. France, anything is possible.

    • midtec2005 - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:11 PM

      I think your plan is good but I’d take it down further to 300 CI (or 302 for historical purposes). From what I understand 10000 RPM isn’t too bad, but apparently things start getting really tricky above about 12000, so the rev limit might be okay… but I like high revving engines so I’m a bit biased.

      Pushrod engines are nearly as out of date as carburetors so overhead cams make sense too, but I’d imagine they would stay at 2 valves per cylinder to keep the power down.

      But who knows, you’re right about Mr. Frances decision making.

      • testover6370 - Apr 2, 2014 at 7:26 PM

        Don’t hate on the pushrod engine. It still works just fine in the Corvette, with the advantage of being simple, reliable, torquey, and fuel efficient.

      • bmcgrath2 - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:08 PM

        10,000 RPM???

        To quote Harry Hogge in Days of Thunder – “Cole, when the little needle in the tach reads 9000 RPM, that’s bad”

      • midtec2005 - Apr 3, 2014 at 6:50 PM

        I drive a pushrod engine every day ;) I like em. But for race engines they are still out of date.

  3. cam303 - Apr 2, 2014 at 6:50 PM

    Nascar can improve engine configuration in introducing overhead cam and cubic inch sizing to improve engine life, however mr.France must be careful in decision-making. Too many rule changes can destroy the sport very quickly.

  4. photog645 - Apr 2, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    Go to 5 liters, do away with restrictor plates, put in at least a half dozen more road races; leave ‘em alone and lettem’ run. Maybe THEN NASCAR would be interesting enough for me to start watching them again. As it is now, cookie cutter cars on pretty much cookie cutter tracks.

  5. barrylibby - Apr 2, 2014 at 8:42 PM

    Manufacturers ?

    Can I go buy a block at my Chevie dealer?
    What production line did the Faux Chevie SS(Holden) come off from ?

    How much work did it take to make a COT/Gen. 6 / Faux Camry/SS/Ford that still doesn’t stick to well to
    track?

    Here is an idea.
    Come up with a tire that the cars can run on that cars will not destroy and or track.

    Hell do away with Sprint and keep trucks better racing more big ones !!

    • bmcgrath2 - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:03 PM

      It actually took a lot of collaboration between the manufacturers to develop the Gen 6 car. I will admit that the Gen 6 is one sexy stock car.

      What this all stems from is Brian France and Robin Pemberton’s endless pursuit of tailoring the cars and rule packages to make for “better racing” at the intermediate tracks that dominate the current circuit.

      Here’s an idea, instead of chasing tails trying to create “better racing” at the intermediates, how about we create more excitement by getting back to more short tracks, adding 1 or 2 more road courses, and most importantly, reduce downforce and race a softer tire.

    • ExposedCanvas - Apr 2, 2014 at 10:25 PM

      Pick a block. Any block

      http://www.chevrolet.com/performance/crate-engines.html

  6. cobobbles - Apr 2, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    “Taking a cue from Formula One, which reduced its engine size and accompanying horsepower for this season”

    So turbocharged v-6’s that sound like muffled lawn mowers?? I don’t see NASCAR taking away 1/3 of their fuel either.

    “The engine is an integral part of that.” It’s not an engine anymore it’s a “power unit.”

  7. kitnamania13 - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    Why not take after Formula 1? After all, their new engines have met with universal acclaim. They sound great and they weren’t expensive at all for the manufacturers to develop. The GP organizers in Australia were so thrilled with the new motors, they’re thinking about suing F1 for being too awesome.

    • cobobbles - Apr 4, 2014 at 11:54 PM

      I think some people are not familiar with the art of sarcasm…

  8. techmeister1 - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:01 PM

    I just laugh every time some suit says they are changing the rules “to lower the cost of racing”. They are completely delusional if they think they can lower the cost of racing. It has never happened and it will never happen because those with the $$$$ will use it to try and find a competitive advantage. They can’t even police the spending or manpower in F1 even when they agree to cut costs. It’s all a facade for the gullible.

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