NASCAR deals with switch to unleaded fuel, considers adding ethanol

As the NASCAR season gears up, fans are all atwitter. No, not about the Daytona 500 scandal — that’s so last week. It’s the switch to that dang unleaded! This weekend saw the first-ever NASCAR race fueled by the gas the rest of the country’s been using for health and environmental reasons since the 1980s, and it wasn’t pretty. Engine failures felled three of the top seven qualifiers and left drivers scratching their heads. “This unleaded fuel has sprung a little bit of a surprise on us — a little bit of a curveball,” said unfortunate son Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 40th with a busted motor. Meanwhile, with the Indy Racing League switching to ethanol and the American Le Mans Series using an ethanol blend, some think NASCAR should get cornier, if only to bridge the redneck-hippie divide. As driver Kyle Petty puts it: “I think once you start seeing alternative fuels show up in places like racing … then you don’t think about that guy with the Volkswagen van that runs off of whatever.”