Fuel mileage races – don’t knock them. It ups the excitement factor when fans don’t know who is going to win until the leader crosses the finish line. That’s what makes plate racing so much better to watch as well – it can be anyone’s game. Some people say it isn’t a legitimate win because the best car doesn’t necessarily win, but I disagree.
Everyone on the track on Sunday had the exact same set of circumstances. Everyone had the same size fuel tank and the same amount of laps to make until the end. The difference is that some raced for the win by wanting to be the leader on the track the whole way, and some raced for the win by wanting to be the leader on the track when it counted.
The biggest thing that I don’t like about fuel mileage races is that just like in regular passenger cars, not all engines have the same amount of consumption. Since my driver is in a Dodge, I don’t want to see any race come down to fuel mileage. The engines in those Dodge Chargers just seem to suck up a little more gas than the other cars out there.
Another thing that I don’t like is that it puts a lot of weight on the drivers. They are already under tremendous pressure to perform, and I’m sure they replay several incidents in their minds after the race and ask what if. I would imagine that having to save fuel during a run only increases that question. When you miss winning a race by less than a lap, wouldn’t you be kicking yourself in the butt for any little bit extra you could have saved?
Now we’re coming up to a road course race. And road courses are notorious for coming down to fuel strategy. In fact, some engine tuners will make their cars put out less horsepower just to be able to stretch their fuel window a little bit. So will we see someone pull off an upset in Sonoma this weekend? I sure hope so. (And I hope his name is AJ.)