DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - NASCAR is making the move to fuel injection in 2012, and officials insist the new system will be completely cheat-proof.
NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said the new system will have safeguards to make sure teams can't tamper with it in an attempt to improve engine performance.
``They will be bulletproof,'' Pemberton said. ``They will be cheat-proof.''
On Friday, NASCAR announced two partners who will develop and provide the fuel injection systems to Sprint Cup series teams, McLaren Electronic Systems and Freescale Semiconductor.
McLaren is part of the McLaren group, which includes the famed McLaren Formula One team. It already builds fuel injection systems for other racing series.
And despite NASCAR's time-honored tradition of teams bending the rules to gain an edge, officials are confident the new systems can't be compromised without somebody noticing.
``The units just won't run unless they have an authorized NASCAR code,'' said Peter van Manen, managing director of McLaren Electronic Systems. ``They will just sit there. So it is impossible to tamper with these units without opening them up, and as soon as you open them up, it is completely visible.''
NASCAR's decision to ditch carburetors - something the passenger car industry did decades ago - and switch to fuel injection could offer teams better performance and fuel economy.
Pemberton said fans won't really notice much of a difference.
``It'll sound the same, it'll run the same, it'll make the same horsepower - if not more,'' Pemberton said. ``It'll be the same great racing that we've been having.''
Still, those pesky restrictor plates used to reduce horsepower and control speeds at Daytona and Talladega aren't going away anytime soon.
``The plates are the easiest and most economical way, because you govern the airflow,'' Pemberton said. ``Right now, we've got several hundred horsepower knocked out of these engines here at Daytona and Talladega. Right now, that's the easiest way to regulate it. There are some things that we will be working on over the next few years to potentially change that.''
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CREW COMBINE: Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 team shook up its pit crew in the offseason, and even held an open tryout to find potential new crew members.
Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus, compared it to the scouting combine the NFL holds before its college draft. And Knaus said performing actual pit stops was only a small part of tryouts.
``You've got to realize that attitudes and effort from the people out there is what makes the big difference,'' he said. ``We can teach people to do pit stops. It's how they handle the pressure and how they do things and how they have the athletic ability to sustain over the course of 39 events. It's really difficult.
:So we had a lot of different things,'' Knaus said. ``We had emotional quotient tests, we had some physical aptitude tests, we did do some pit stops. And that's how we made our decisions.''
Knaus is taking a new approach to his pit crew this season. Much like an NFL team, he established a starting lineup and backup members - and says he won't hesitate to make changes if a crew member isn't performing up to par.
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CARNEGIE REMEMBERED: Given Tony Stewart's roots in Indiana and Indy-style racing, he was touched by the death of iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway announcer Tom Carnegie.
``He was the voice of the speedway,'' Stewart said in a statement. ``I still have a tape of my qualifying lap at Indy during my rookie year when I broke the track record, and it's his voice and his words that helped make that moment so special. His voice was unmistakable and was such a part of Indy, and when he wasn't there last year, you knew that something was missing. While a lot of us knew this day was coming, it doesn't make it any easier. He'll be missed.''
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SPARK PLUGS: Denny Hamlin's crew chief, Mike Ford, left the track Friday after the death of his father-in-law. ... Jack Roush has a good feeling about his teams going into the season. ``I think that we could very easily dethrone Jimmie,'' Roush said. ``Certainly we have the cars for it, we have the drivers for it and we have the crew chiefs for it. I don't anticipate a problem with an engine deficiency this season, and I don't think I've got an aerodynamic deficiency. I think I have great people and I'm sure we have great drivers.'' ... Several teams sat out the second practice Friday night, including Juan Pablo Montoya.

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