When Ryan Newman wrecked during the late stages of the Daytona 500, there were immediate concerns among NASCAR fans. They saw an open flame and what they believed to be gasoline dripping from the car. However, the vehicle did not catch on fire due to the liquid actually being motor oil.
According to Bob Pockrass of FOX Sports, NASCAR confirmed that oil was indeed dripping from the vehicle. Motor oil has a flashpoint ranging between 425-460 degrees, which is the point when the vapors will ignite when exposed to an ignition source. Gasoline, on the other hand, has a flashpoint of negative 45 degrees.
Additionally, motor oil in these stock cars is not stored in the same manner as traditional vehicles. The oil is delivered to the engine using a dry-sump system. This tank is mounted behind the driver and is accessible through the side window of the vehicle. This makes it easier to fill the tank. Oil lines deliver the fluid to the motor.
Yes, it’s called a dry sump system. This tank is filled with oil and it’s mounted behind the driver. You access it through the side window behind the driver to fill. Oil lines run from there to the motor. pic.twitter.com/7z5zmRuII4— Todd /\/\orey™ (@todd_morey) February 23, 2020
The dry-sump system uses a separate motor oil reservoir and two or more oil pumps. The wet-sump system, which is in standard automobiles, relies only on one oil pump and the single reservoir under the motor.
While some NASCAR fans saw this explanation and reacted with skepticism, another prominent NASCAR figure did confirm the report. Brian Keselowski, who owns Brian Keselowski Motorsports, added his own explanation. He revealed that about six gallons of oil can be held in these systems.
"These cars hold up to 6 gallons of oil. It's often very light weight oil especially on plate tracks," Keselowski wrote on Twitter. "Add onto it that the oil was likely 240 degrees or more, it becomes almost like water. The breather/overflow catch tank has been mounted in the trunk area for years now."
To further his point, Keselowski tweeted multiple photos that showed this dry-sump system. in a stock car. He also explained that there is a hose leading from the top of the tank into the trunk area. This is used to safely vent the fumes and any excess oil into the trunk area.
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images