- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - Jack Roush once was the most hands-on team owner in the NASCAR garage.

It wouldn’t be odd to walk into the garage on a race weekend and see Roush under the hood, fiddling with a carburetor.

But with the advent of electronic fuel injection in the Sprint Cup Series this season, Roush jokes that the level of technology finally has exceeded his ability to tinker.

After winning pole position for the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards joked that one of the keys to the team’s great start to the season is that “Jack hasn’t been doing much carburetor tuning.”

Roush, sitting next to Edwards in the interview session, had to acknowledge it was true.

“They’re working me closer to the door,” Roush said. “The more this technology expands, the less there is for a dinosaur like me to do. I’m just a comedian right now.”

After clinging to carburetors for decades after they were regularly found in passenger cars, NASCAR finally is making the switch to fuel injection.

It was a major change for teams and their engine builders, making right now an exciting time for guys like engine builders. Doug Yates, the CEO of Roush Yates Engines, said he has more data than ever to analyze and can make far more adjustments to affect the engines’ performance.

“It’s very exciting from an engine builder and an engineer’s perspective, having new technology in NASCAR.” Yates said. “And it’s our job to hopefully make it seamless.”

The transition mostly has flown under the radar during Daytona Speedweeks so far _ a good sign that there aren’t any major issues.

“It’s out there, and it’s quiet,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition. “Knock on wood, but it just goes to show you how hard everybody’s working.”

Pemberton said the move to fuel injection helps make NASCAR more relevant, especially to automakers backing the sport. It also gives teams a little more leeway to tune their engines _ to a point.

“There are tools in the toolbox that we are not using with this system, for obvious reasons,” Pemberton said. “And that is to keep the drivers driving and the crew chiefs working on their setups.”

Pemberton expects teams to try to get away with something at some point. There has been speculation that allowing electronic fuel injection could open the door for a team to come up with a hidden traction control system, giving them an illegal advantage.

“That’s what everybody says,” Pemberton said. “But the truth be known, that’s probably not your biggest problem. The biggest problem is the one you don’t know about, right?”

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