News & Media

Car Care: Stewart's fuel man offers conservation tips

April 26, 2011, Official Release,

Jeff Patterson lives on the road.

When he's not driving a luxury motorcoach an estimated 45,000 miles a year, he's making sure his boss' racecar is filled with Sunoco E15 racing fuel.

Patterson, gas man for Stewart's No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, knows how to take care of the gas tank on Stewart's race car, as well as the gas tank on Stewart's multi-million-dollar motor home.

Since gas prices continue to rise, Patterson is paying particular attention to how many miles he gets out of a tank of gas on the road -- almost as much attention as the race engineer pays to the fuel mileage between pit stops on the track.

But how does Patterson -- who goes by the nickname "Gooch" -- save gas while making his way from race to race behind the wheel of Stewart's motorcoach?

"It's pretty simple," the California native said with a laugh. "Slow down. For every five miles per hour you slow down, you'll save a lot of gasoline. Instead of driving along at 70 or 75, stay at 60 or 65 or whatever the speed limit is and you'll stretch that tank farther than you can imagine."

Gooch, who has been driving Stewart's motorcoach for years now, notes that proper inflation of your tires plays a key role in what kind of mileage you coax out of your passenger vehicle.

"If you keep your tires at the recommended pressures, not too low or too high, you not only save gas because the tires are at their optimum load-bearing ratio, you also save yourself from buying new tires more often than you need to."

Let's face it. The motorcoaches that NASCAR drivers utilize are not purchased with fuel mileage in mind. It's about staying comfortably at the track, 38 weekends a year. That said, saving money is saving money, and even NASCAR drivers at the top of the sport have a budget.

Consumers certainly do, and that's the point.

"Paying attention to your speed is one thing, but paying attention to your maintenance schedule is important too," said Patterson. "If you keep the fuel system clean, do your recommended maintenance and make sure you're changing the oil at recommended intervals, you'll save money."

According to the Car Care Council, Patterson is right on the money. Here are some numbers to prove it:

Keep your car properly tuned to improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent.

Keep tires properly inflated and improve gas mileage by 3 percent.

Replace dirty or clogged air filters on older vehicles to improve gas mileage by as much as 14 percent.

Replace dirty spark plugs, which can reduce mileage by two miles per gallon.

Change oil regularly and gain another mile per gallon.

In terms of getting more for your petro dollar, the Council offers the following reminders:

Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 mph.

Avoid excessive idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Warming up the vehicle for one or two minutes is sufficient.

Avoid quick starts and stops. Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent in the city.

Consolidate trips. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much gas as one longer multi-purpose trip.

Don't haul unneeded items in the trunk. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent.

If you can trust any NASCAR crew member about fuel mileage, it's the gasman, right? Heed "Gooch" Patterson's advice and you'll see how much more green accumulates in your wallet