I don't get how jet fuel in a car's intake would make it run better. I found one take on the story that said it was a compound known as "oxygenate". Could it be that the G.O.B.s at NASCAR confused a rocket fuel component with jet fuel?
Yup. That's what it was.
Rocket fuel likely was Waltrip's mysterious additive
By Bruce Martin SportsTicker Contributing Editor
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Ticker) - Rocket fuel was the likely mysterious additive found in Michael Waltrip's engine, PA SportsTicker has learned.
This disputes reports from other news outlets that the additive was jet fuel, which is kerosene-based and would not properly mix with gasoline to give any type of competitive advantage.
Rocket fuel, however, is oxygenated so that it can burn in an environment where oxygen does not exist. Adding rocket fuel to a race car's engine causes the gas to burn hotter, which would increase the horsepower in the engine.
According to sources, the substance is propylene oxide, which is a gel-like substance used in rocket fuel.
"That is a term that has been used describing that substance," said Jim Aust, the president and CEO of Toyota Racing Development (TRD). "I really don't have any idea what it is. We've been talking to NASCAR and they have a chemical name for it that is not pronounceable from what we've heard. There has been some indication that term (rocket fuel) has been associated with it."
When asked if the additive was rocket fuel, a NASCAR official who wished to remain anonymous smiled and said, "You're certainly in the right forest."
A rival Nextel Cup engine builder who is familiar with what an illegal additive can do to an engine told PA SportsTicker that, "NASCAR won't tell us for sure what it is, but it is something that is very hard to get, almost impossible to get."
John Darby is the NASCAR Nextel Cup director and without naming the substance, said it was illegal.
"I'm not a chemist, all I can tell is if it is fluids or substances that are supposed to be there or not," Darby said. "We've confirmed that this one is not. I'm not a chemist, but looking through the rule book, this one was not supposed to be in the engine."
A top NASCAR spokesperson said the sanctioning body will not reveal the name of the substance found in the car.
"We're using the same policy that we use if one of our competitors fails the substance abuse policy. We do not publicly release what that substance is, said Ramsey Poston, NASCAR's managing director of corporate communications. "We're treating this the same way and will not release the name of the substance that was discovered in the car."
Some rocket fuels are solid based, with a gel-like substance, which fits the profile of the additive that NASCAR officials said they found in the intake manifold of Waltrip's Toyota Camry after Sunday's qualifications for the Daytona 500.
That led to major penalties that included indefinite suspensions to crew chief David Hyder and vice president of competition Bobby Kennedy, $100,000 fines to the team and the loss of 100 championship points to the driver and the team owner, Waltrip's wife Buffy.
Michael Waltrip was very apologetic when he spoke on Thursday morning before the Gatorade Duel 150s at Daytona International Speedway.
"On Sunday, I was confident that we didn't do anything wrong, but it was obvious someone tried to pull something off," Waltrip said. "There is no reason to ever explain why it happened but for somebody to mess with the fuel, I don't understand how anybody could do that or why it happened."
Waltrip finished eighth in the first Gatorade Duel on Thursday to qualify for Sunday's Daytona 500.
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