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Catch cans removed from NASCAR's national tours

February 03, 2011, Dave Rodman, NASCAR.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Change eliminates the seventh over-the-wall crewman in all three series

NASCAR is trying to make pit road safer in all three of its national tours in 2011 as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series will now adopt the refueling system currently used in the Camping World Truck Series.

NASCAR vice president for competition Robin Pemberton revealed during a media briefing in conjunction with a Goodyear tire test Thursday at Daytona that the change will debut in the two premier tours at Speedweeks 2011 at Daytona International Speedway, whereby "self-venting dump cans" will be used to refuel cars on pit stops.

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Earlier in the session, Jeff Burton had tipped the change when he said, referencing the tires influencing race strategy, "the other thing is the new fueling system. That will dictate some of your track position choices on what to do for tires [because] you're not going to need tires to win the race; you're going to need track position."

The system, which was made an option at the beginning of the 2010 season in the Truck Series, eliminates the seventh over-the-wall crewman who held a catch can to retrieve fuel that might spill from a vent on the back of the car.

"Over our three national series, we'll run a fueling system that will eliminate the catch-can guy [because] it fuels and vents all in one process," Pemberton said. "It's what the trucks have used, successfully."

In addition to eliminating the most exposed member of the over-the-wall crew, since the catch-can member would have their back to oncoming traffic, Pemberton said the advent of E-15 ethanol fuel also figured into the decision.

"It better enables us to keep a control on the open container of fuel," Pemberton said. "Because with the E-15 you want to make sure you never get any moisture introduced into that and this better helps that."

Pemberton said, like many other aspects of NASCAR racing, once the move is made, teams will work within the rules to make it better -- so he hesitated to quantify exactly how much "slower" it would make pit stops, since the self-venting cans flow more slowly.

"It depends on when they get done working on it -- and they're not done working on it, yet," Pemberton said. "It's maybe a little over a second a can slower so it puts you at 13 or 14 seconds, maybe 15 seconds for a fuel stop -- maybe."

But the teams have room to "engineer" the system, Pemberton said.

"It's out there and it's approved and the teams will always go back in there and they'll experiment," Pemberton said. "It could be with different coatings and just to fine-tune that and stuff. You put it in the hands of the professionals and sometimes it's better and sometimes it's worse -- but they'll make it better, I'm sure."