NASCAR: Do Recent Gas Spikes Affect the Sport?

by Suzanne Halliburton
Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

You think you’ve got it tough as you watch the dizzying fuel price numbers when you fill up your car. But did you ever wonder about all that NASCAR gas?

After all, NASCAR races are hundreds of miles long. It’s mostly all gas and no brakes. So what’s the gas bill?

The 4-1-1 on NASCAR Gas Costs

  • Each car can use up to 100 gallons of gas on a big Sunday race.
  • Sunoco supplies a special 98 octane Green E15 fuel
  • And, it’s all supplied free of cost to teams for race weekends.
  • However, teams pay gas costs for their 18-wheelers transporting cars and equipment from race to race

There are two NASCAR races this weekend. You’ve got the United Rentals 200, an Xfinity Series at Phoenix Raceway. That’s Saturday. On Sunday, it’s the Ruoff Mortgage 500, also at Phoenix Raceway. And drivers are constantly in their cars from testing to practicing to qualifying. The race is like the icing on the big driving cake.

But you’d be surprised at the NASCAR gas cost. It’s free. Bob Pockrass, a reporter for Fox Sports, said the cars use a special 98 octane Green E15 fuel. It’s an unleaded blend made for high-performance engines.

The teams use it on race weekends. And it’s all courtesy of Sunoco, a NASCAR corporate sponsor since 2004.

So drivers aren’t sweating gas prices, at least when they’re at the track. But paying for gas in their private vehicles maybe another story. After all, everyone is feeling the pinch. Friday’s oil prices were holding kind of steady, considering the situation is fluid. Oil prices spiked earlier this week, settling as high as $123 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price. Friday’s price was about $109 a barrel, with gasoline traded at $3.30 a gallon. The oil market already was a tight one as it responded to huge demand. The Russian invasion of Ukraine set the market on fire.

But NASCAR isn’t immune from gas prices, even with their free, special green-colored gas on race weekends. Each team needs to haul the cars and equipment from race to race. That gets expensive. The teams moved from last week’s races in Las Vegas to this weekend’s events in Arizona.

As Fox News pointed out, each 18-wheeler loaded down with cars and equipment, gets hideous gas mileage. Try 6.5 miles per gallon. Each truck has a 300-gallon tank, so that makes a fill-up roughly $1,500, give or take what’s happening in Ukraine. The next NASCAR race is in Charlotte, N.C. That’s 2,000 miles away. The NASCAR gas math is bad.

The big NASCAR teams can absorb the cost of gas prices. It’s guaranteed that the smaller teams on the Xfinity Series will feel it. With 30 events on the schedule, that’s a lot of hauling. Analysts believe gas prices may not drop significantly until Thanksgiving. That’s nearly a month after the NASCAR season ends.