NASCAR and Gas Prices

Despite my Southern roots, I’m not much of a racin’ fan. However, I have been curious as to how the ongoing fuel crisis is affecting the sport. Now, thanks to a deeply informative article by Matt Markey of the Toledo Blade, I have some answers. Here’s a smattering of those answers:

  • Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series competitors receive fuel at no cost, courtesy of Sunoco*.
  • They use a higher octane fuel, which I knew. That higher octane fuel presently checks in at about $5.50 per gallon, which I didn’t know.
  • Sprint Cup drivers burn through about 135,000 gallons of the stuff per season.
  • Cup Series cars get no better than five or six miles to the gallon.

So … the arrangement between Sunoco and NASCAR. Does Sunoco have some sort of opt-out if the price-per-barrel of crude reaches a certain level? They took over as official supplier in 2004, when crude was going for less than $50 a barrel. It would be interesting to know whether they had the foresight to protect themselves against what’s going on right now. Since their agreement postdates the Iraq invasion, you would assume–what with their having industry experts on the payroll and all–that they would’ve anticipated some upheaval among OPEC member states. And maybe they did.

At some point, though, the cost of petrol must outweigh whatever promotional considerations they’re receiving (a firesuit patch of of one’s own, if you will). Is Sunoco nearing, at, or past that point?

(* Interesting aside: The Sierra Clubs rates Sunoco and BP as the most environmentally conscious U.S. oil companies.)

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