A number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have voiced their concern about the governing body's intention of making some of their telemetry data available to competitors.
The introduction of electronic fuel injection in NASCAR's top series has given teams the ability to have data acquisition on race weekends, a novelty in the Sprint Cup garage, as before they were only allowed to do so in test sessions. NASCAR is planning to release some of the data from top finishers after races so that teams can also help police the new EFI systems are being run according to the rules.
Last week at Las Vegas, reigning champion Tony Stewart (ABOVE) was unbeatable on restarts in the closing stages, claiming victory over five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. As both teams share the same engine builder – Hendrick Motorsports – Johnson claims he has already been able to see where his rival was better than him last week.
"I did look at Tony's data and definitely have a direction and know what's going on," said Johnson. "It's a complicated thing that I'm certainly not going to share for the world to see. But I've got a clear direction of where to work."
Despite accepting such data sharing is key to the success of the Hendrick engine program, Stewart stated he wouldn't like all rivals to have access to their telemetry readings as it would essentially give away any edge they have found in tuning the system.
"I don't know that they need to give all the information away all the time," said Stewart. "There's still the part of having the creativity and guys doing their homework. I feel like from the Hendrick side, those guys have done a great job.
"I don't think it's fair you give all that information to everybody else because you did a good job. I think as long as it stays in the parameters of NASCAR says we're allowed to work in, there should be that creativity. You don't just give hard work away. So I don't think it's right to do that."
Johnson's Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. has warned about NASCAR trying to equalize the field through the EFI system, as he believes everyone should be allowed to keep certain information private.
"I'd rather not have that," said Earnhardt. "It would benefit to be able to see that. But, I think it is a slippery slope. With the fuel injection it brings in the ability this year to be able to see data that we've never been able to see before.
"I think we should ease into how we use that data, and how NASCAR allows us to use that data kind of slowly not to upset the culture of the sport, or how things have worked in the past. I think if we take this new door that has been opened to us and abuse it; it might not be good for the sport. I think it's better for competition for everybody to have a few secrets."
Last year's championship runner-up Carl Edwards backed Earnhardt's view and he reckons that beyond revealing any tuning advantage of the EFI systems, he wouldn't like rivals being able to learn about specifics of his driving technique, such as fuel saving tactics for example.
"The thing is with us drivers is what we do with the pedals and steering wheel and all that stuff is our proprietary stuff," said Edwards. "From NASCAR's perspective, I can see how they would want everyone to not have an advantage and keep feeding everyone information to make it tougher and closer.
"I know for me personally with the fuel mileage things and different things, there have been times I thought there were things I did in the car that I wouldn't want anyone else to see. If those days are over, then they are over. I guess that is just the way it is."
NASCAR officials have stated the data they plan to reveal would be related to the mapping of the EFI systems, but it remains to be seen which channels they would make available.