Eddie Gossage likes Chase changes

January, 30, 2014
Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage commented on NASCAR's new changes to the Chase format, which the sanctioning body announced on Thursday. Here are some of Gossage's thoughts as part of a Q&A provided by TMS:

Q: What change did NASCAR make that you thought was most needed?

Gossage: The thing that NASCAR did with this is they made sure every single race counts. You are no longer racing for a big, long-term picture; you are racing for today and that is what fans want to see. They want to come to a race and know that they are seeing the drivers and their teams doing the very best, lap after lap, race after race and that this race today matters more than anything else going on. They are not worried about next week. They aren't looking toward the end of the season. They are worried about today because if you win today you are in the Chase. You've got a shot at winning the championship for the season. Everybody is going to try and be winning this race and the next week they are going to try and win that race. There is no pacing yourself. There are no testing things out and trying things out. You want to win today. So when you come to Texas for the April race, that race is huge. You've got to win. And if you can win there your season is made, you are in the Chase. To me, that means so much to the fans. They want to see that race that they bought a ticket to matter. Nobody buys a ticket to see a point championship. People are buying a ticket to see a race.

Q: Do you think that NASCAR is trying to manufacture playoff drama with the changes or ultimately looking to improve the overall product?

Gossage: It's often a criticism of NASCAR that they are somehow trying to manufacture things and I don't understand that because I didn't see that same charge levied against the NFL when they talked about eliminating the point after touchdown kick. Is the NFL trying to manufacture excitement? Yes! Absolutely they are and that is exciting. Is NASCAR trying to manufacture some excitement here? Absolutely! What is wrong with that? Through the years we have seen the playoff for various sports expanded. The NFL use to have a couple of teams - or three teams and a conference - that would have a playoff and go to the Super Bowl. Now it is up to six teams. In some leagues, they take 50 percent of the teams and put them in championship rounds for the playoffs. Everybody tries to do that in some fashion or another. I don't know why it's different when people talk about NASACAR that way. Every sport is trying to create excitement and this is no different.

Q: Do you like the elimination style where you need to produce throughout the Chase or you could have an early playoff exit just like some "stick-and-ball" sports?

Gossage: I like the eliminations. I really do. You are going to have to produce early on or else you are going to get kicked out after that third race. Then more are going to get kicked out after that sixth race. Then after the ninth race, it's down to four drivers. I think that is a good thing. That focuses the spotlight nice and hot on these drivers that are in the Chase. The eliminations to me make a lot of sense. It happens in every other sport. People can say what they want to but every other sport - you can have a great season but when you get to the playoffs you lose, you go home. Same thing here. You are going to have to win and do well in the Chase if you want to win the championship.

Kyle Busch hopes to build off earlier TMS win

November, 1, 2013
One thing Kyle Busch will get this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway is lots of track time. The driver is competing in tonight's truck race, followed by the Nationwide race Saturday and the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday.

But before he even climbs into his truck, Busch has plenty of confidence at TMS. He won the Sprint Cup race in the spring, the first race at TMS with the new Gen-6 car. He won the Nationwide race less than 24 hours earlier.

"It certainly went well for us here earlier this year, and we made it a lot of fun," Busch said. "We want to try to have a repeat performance."

Busch won the Sprint Cup's NRA 500 by leading a race-high 171 laps and won the race from the pole. He was up front all weekend.

Busch believes running all three series gives him an advantage in that he gets to see the track in race conditions a few times before Sunday. Busch sits 36 points behind Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth but is fifth in the standings. He knows he's a long shot to winning the title.

"If you have bad luck with the front two then that's going to bring five guys back into it, I feel like," Busch said. But he later added: "I bet you the front two don't."

Jimmie Johnson comfortable at TMS

November, 1, 2013
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Almost from the moment Jimmie Johnson first arrived at Texas Motor Speedway more than a decade ago, he looked comfortable racing around the 1.5-mile oval.

While other drivers needed a ton of laps to figure things out, Johnson and his team quickly discovered a setup that worked, and despite changes to the track's surface, they've made contending at TMS almost automatic. He looks to continue that run in the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday as he attempts to win a sixth championship.

He's got two wins and 15 top-10 finishes in 20 career starts, including nine top-5s. Johnson hasn't started worse than 18th at TMS, and that was back in 2005, when he finished third. Both of Johnson's victories came by winning one-on-one duels. He beat Matt Kenseth in 2007 on his way to a title and Brad Keselowski in this race last year.

"It's a good track," Johnson said. "I feel like we have to work hard for it, which is fine. It never comes easy here. That's one aspect of this track is that you've got to roll your sleeves up and go to work, and that's something our team is really good at."

Johnson is once again in the middle of a championship chase. He's tied with Kenseth on top of the Chase standings with three races to go and will be competing Sunday at a track that he likes. He said Friday that he enjoys the surface and "character" of the track and that he knows all the bumps and dips.

"The driver has more confidence," Johnson said about the track's surface. "The tire-asphalt combination, the way it works, we can slide the car without big penalty or consequence. Some of the newer asphalt, you get a little slip in the tire and it's gone and around and you can't drive the same."

What to watch: AAA Texas 500

October, 31, 2013
NASCAR's playoffs, the Chase for the Sprint Cup, enters the final three races full of drama. In fact, the Chase has never been this close this late in the season, with Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth tied for the points lead. And there are others -- like Jeff Gordon (27 points behind), Kyle Busch (36 back) and even a few more -- still hopeful of making a comeback and snatching the trophy away.

Let's take a look at a few things to watch this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Qualifying takes place Friday, the Nationwide Series runs Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. CT on ESPN is the AAA Texas 500 Sprint Cup Series race):

Top two contenders like Texas: There really isn't a big advantage for Johnson or Kenseth in Texas. Both have run well at TMS.

Kenseth is the career leader at TMS in Sprint Cup races laps led with 772, top-5 finishes with 12 and finishing average at 8.5. He has two wins at the track, including the spring of 2011. He's finished in the top 10 in seven of his eight appearances in the fall race.

Johnson will be defending his victory from 2012 and has two additional wins at the speedway. He also has five runner-ups at TMS, the most by a Cup driver.

Experience counts: Both Johnson and Kenseth have championships on their résumés. But Kenseth's came in 2003, before NASCAR switched to the Chase format. And Johnson has put together one of the most dominating stretches the sport has ever seen, winning five straight titles from 2006 to 2010. He understands this format and what has to be done. So if there's an experience edge, it goes to Johnson.

Don't forget about me: Gordon earned the checkered flag at Martinsville last week, inching him closer to the rear bumper of Johnson and Kenseth. He sits 27 points behind and comes to TMS with confidence. After the final race of the regular season, it didn't appear that Gordon was going to even be in the Chase. But NASCAR gave Gordon a 13th spot when it determined that Michael Waltrip Racing was unfairly trying to influence the outcome of the Richmond race.

Gordon took advantage, finishing in the top 10 in five of the first seven Chase races to make his climb. He's vying for a fifth championship and will do so at a track where he's bounced back from some early disappointments. Gordon ended a 47-race winless streak with a victory at TMS in 2009 and has 11 top-10 finishes in 25 career starts.

Local driver tries to defend championship: James Buescher, the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, is back at TMS (one of the tracks where he learned to race) and hoping to get himself back in championship contention. He sits 51 points behind leader Matt Crafton and has never won at TMS in the Truck Series.

TMS building largest HD video board in world

September, 23, 2013
FORT WORTH – Texas Motor Speedway announced Monday night that the race track has partnered with Panasonic to create what they say is the largest high-definition video board in the world.

The board will be displayed on the backstretch of the track and will be 218 feet long, 94.6 feet wide (nearly the wing span of a 747) and will stretch nearly 12 stories in the air. It’s more than 20,000 square feet.

Once completed – and race officials say it will be in time for the first NASCAR Sprint Cup weekend in April, 2014 – it will be larger than the board at Charlotte Motor Speedway (16,000 square feet) and larger than the one sitting at Reliant Stadium in Houston, which overtook the board at AT&T Stadium in Arlington recently.

The speedway has nicknamed the board “Big Hoss TV,” and officials note that it will be larger than the Lincoln Memorial and nine Alamos could fit inside the screen area. It is 108 tons of HDTV, weighing more than seven elephants.

TMS Talk: Eddie Gossage

June, 6, 2013
Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage joins Galloway & Company to discuss the upcoming race weekend at TMS.

Listen here.

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss NASCAR Trucks and IndyCar race week at TMS, the evolution of Indy racing, ESPN sports science and more.

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IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone 550 lineup

June, 5, 2013

Sports Science: IndyCar G-Force at TMS

June, 3, 2013
At Texas Motor Speedway, an IndyCar's average speed per lap is 215 miles per hour due to the 24 degree banking in the corners. Sport Science examines the amount of G-Force that can put on the human body.

TMS Talk: Tony Kanaan

May, 28, 2013
Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan speaks to the media after a special luncheon at Texas Motor Speedway.

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Eddie Gossage on NRA sponsorship

April, 12, 2013
Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage joins Galloway & Company to discuss the NRA sponsorship and who he's picking to win Saturday's Sprint Cup race.

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Drivers to watch: NRA 500 at TMS

April, 12, 2013

With ESPN Stats & Information riding shotgun, here's who you should keep a close eye on during Saturday night's NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway:

Jimmie Johnson: "Five-Time" has outdone the entire field in some aspects over the past 10 Sprint Cup events. In that time, he has four of the 10 wins and has won three times from the pole, something no other driver has done even once. He also has three starts where he's earned maximum points, which is more than the rest of the field combined. Johnson led more laps at TMS (324) in 2012 -- more than 3.5 times any other driver. After last week's win at Martinsville, Johnson now has 12 multi-win seasons during his career, which ranks behind only Richard Petty (18), Jeff Gordon (14) and Cale Yarborough (13).

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage joins Galloway & Company to discuss the NRA sponsorship and who he's picking to win Saturday's Sprint Cup race.

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And don't look for that dominance to end on the 1.5-mile track at TMS. Johnson loves the distance, earning more career wins on 1.5-mile tracks (17 in 113 starts) than any other driver in NASCAR history. Jeff Gordon (16/161) and Tony Stewart (15/133) are on his heels, however.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Since the start of the 2012 season, Dale Jr. has really stepped it up. His average finish over his last 40 races has been 10.4 -- more than eight spots better than the 2009-11 seasons (18.8 average finish). And he's very comfortable at TMS, where he earned his first career victory. Earnhardt has four straight top-10 finishes at TMS and five overall since the start of the 2010 Sprint Cup season. For his career, he's got 12 top-10 finishes in 21 races. Not too shabby.

Roush Fenway Racing (Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards): RFR is no stranger when it comes to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway. The team has nine Cup wins at TMS, more than double the next-best effort (4, by Hendrick Motorsports drivers). Greg Biffle, who won the spring race in 2012, and Carl Edwards will again be behind the wheel in Jack Roush cars on Saturday night, so keep an eye on them. In the last five races here (spanning 18 starts), RFR drivers have two wins, 11 top-5 finishes and 15 top 10s. They've also led 38.7 percent of laps run at TMS.

Edwards is the winningest Cup driver at TMS, having fired the pistols three times in Victory Lane. He also has three top-10 finishes in his last four starts here, with an average finish of 7.3. Biffle, meanwhile, has one win and hasn't finished outside the top 10 in his last nine races at TMS -- an average finish of 5.7. That includes six top-5s.

Danica Patrick: You have to keep on eye on Danica, whose eighth-place finish during the 2012 Nationwide Series race at TMS is the second-best result of her NASCAR career. And don't forget she's coming off an impressive 12th in the Cup race at Martinsville last week. Patrick seems very comfortable running under the green at TMS, where she passed a personal-best 107 cars en route to a 24th place finish last November.

Brad Keselowski: You have to think a visit to Victory Lane is just around the corner for the reigning Cup champion. Keselowski has yet to win this season, but has an average finish of 7.2 thus far this season. That's ahead of the personal-best pace he set last season, as he had an average finish of 10.1 -- with five wins -- en route to the Sprint Cup championship.

Kyle Busch: After the worst season of his career, Busch still is a threat to win behind the wheel of any car, as his success across all three of NASCAR's series proves. After taking the checkered flag just once last season, Busch has gotten back to his winning ways in 2013 -- getting four wins in just 12 races. Over the last six seasons, Busch has 88 victories in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck series.

Matt Kenseth: Kenseth is always a threat at TMS, having won twice on the 1.5-mile track. But it's not the checkered flags that impresses most. It's the career average finish here (8.3) that boggles the mind. He's got 12 top 5s, 15 top 10s and has led 772 laps at TMS.

Jeff Gordon: Saturday's start will the 696th in a row for Gordon, who will move within one of Rusty Wallace for second on the all-time NASCAR Iron Man list. Ricky Rudd holds the record at 788.

Tony Stewart: "Smoke" has always been a TMS favorite, but he's run into tough times so far this season with an average finish of 21.2 and only 154 quality passes, which ranks 22nd among Cup drivers. That being said, you can't count Stewart out as he's visited Victory Lane in each of the last 14 seasons, which is tied for seventh all-time behind Richard Petty's 18 seasons with a win. With a checkered flag in 2013, he'll join Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt on that list, and he'd also tie Herb Thomas for 13th all-time with 48 career victories.

TMS trivia: Amaze your friends!

April, 11, 2013

Want to impress your friends while hanging out at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday and Saturday? Here's a little bit of TMS trivia, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information:

FRONT RUNNERS: If you qualify in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway, you have a very good chance of winning. In 24 races since the track’s inaugural race in 1997, 18 winners have rolled off pit row from a top-10 starting spot, the highest win percentage of any track along with Sonoma. Richmond and Dover are next at 71.9 percent.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME: So who has the best chance of starting in the top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway? None other than Jimmie Johnson, who has started from inside the top 10 on 12 occasions in 19 races (63.2 percent), including both of his Texas wins. Greg Biffle (61.1), Kasey Kahne (58.8) and Mark Martin (54.2) are next.

CLIMBING THE LADDER: Enough about those at the front. That's easy, right? Now ... coming up through the field to win? That's an achievement. Matt Kenseth currently holds that honor, winning in 2002 after starting 31st. Denny Hamlin, however, proved he was no fluke, having swept both 2010 races from the 30th and 29th starting spots in the field. Carl Edwards (2005) also won from the 30th spot.

PHOTO FINISHES: Nothing beats the drama of a last-lap sprint to the checkered flag. Just ask Elliott Sadler, who edged Kasey Kahne by .028 seconds in 2004 for the closest Cup finish in TMS history. And if you want the opposing viewpoint, you can try to ask Jimmie Johnson, who was the runner-up in close finishes to Denny Hamlin (.152 seconds in 2010), Tony Stewart (.272 seconds in 2006), Jeff Gordon (.378 seconds in 2009) and Carl Edwards (.399 seconds in 2008). Venturing a guess, however: You need not feel overly sorry for "Five-Time."

WHICH WAY IS VICTORY LANE: Will there be a first-time Cup winner in Texas? It's happened twice before. Jeff Burton earned his first Cup victory at TMS in 1997. Burton, who started fifth, beat Dale Jarrett by 4.1 seconds to win in his 96th career race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. reached Victory Lane much quicker, winning at TMS in 2000 in just his 12th career race. Who'd Dale Jr. beat to the finish line? Why Jeff Burton, of course.

Danger always lurking around the corner at TMS

April, 11, 2013

Danger can strike at any time in any area of the track at Texas Motor Speedway.

There have been 89 accidents in 24 races at TMS (3.7 per race) with almost a quarter occurring on the backstretch since 1997, where 23.6 percent of incidents occur. Turn 2 has been the next busiest area for the tow trucks, where 20.2 percent of accidents have happened.

Other areas: Turn 4 (19.1 percent), Frontstretch (16.9), Turn 1 (13.5) and -- finally -- Turn 3 (6.7).

Where's the best place to be? Running at the front of the field, of course. Since average running position was first added into accident data in 2008, Texas Motor Speedway has the second-lowest wreck percentage -- 2.4 percent -- by cars running in the Top 5. Phoenix is the safest track for cars in the top five (1 percent).

Who was the unlucky driver? Tony Stewart was running second when he wrecked in the 2010 spring race.

And if you're a fan of fireworks, you might not have to wait until the checkered flag flies and the postrace festivities begin. TMS has a history of explosive moments.

  • November 2009: Jimmie Johnson was pursuing his fourth straight Cup title as the series headed to Texas, but it ran into a snag when Sam Hornish Jr. got loose and made contact with the 48. Johnson nearly saved the car before colliding with Hornish again, and he sustained heavy damage. Johnson was very critical of Hornish after the race.

  • April 2010: Jimmie Johnson made contact with teammate Jeff Gordon, and Gordon shared his thoughts over the radio. They also made contact the very next week at Talladega.

  • November 2010: Jeff Burton inexplicably put Jeff Gordon into the wall well after a caution had come out. After Gordon climbed out of his car, he walked all the way down the backstretch and shoved Burton. Burton shoved back as the two shouted at each other.

  • November 2010: Kyle Busch was tabbed for speeding on a pit stop, and in frustration, he gave a one-finger salute -- and then a two-middle finger salute -- to a NASCAR official while being held on pit road. He was attempting to stay ahead of the pace car after a wreck.
  • SMI CEO Bruton Smith among nominees for NASCAR HOF

    April, 11, 2013
    AM CT

    O. Bruton Smith, the CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., was among the 25 finalists for the NASCAR Hall of Fame that were announced Wednesday. Texas Motor Speedway is one of eight tracks owned and operated by Smith.

    "We are so proud that our boss, Bruton Smith, has been nominated to be considered for the NASCAR Hall of Fame," TMS president Eddie Gossage said in a statement. "He deserves to be honored in the Hall. He has been one of the people to lead our sport from a small regional promotion to an international force. I also know the many occasions he has quietly helped employees, crew members and drivers that came across hard times in their lives. Most of all, Bruton has helped the fans by leading the way with modern facilities and major-league promotion."

    SMI also owns and operates Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The tracks play host to 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, 17 NASCAR Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series races, and other high-profile motorsports events. Smith also founded Speedway Children's Charities in 1984.

    To see the rest of the finalists for the Class of 2014, click here.

    WWE's Shawn Michaels to drive NRA 500 pace car

    April, 10, 2013
    PM CT
    WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels will be behind the wheel of the pace car at Texas Motor Speedway as he leads the 43-car field to the green flag for the NRA 500 on Saturday night.

    Michaels, also known for his "Heartbreak Kid" nickname and his signature "Sweet Chin Music" finishing move, will be just the third celebrity to actually be driving the pace car -- joining actor Vince Vaughn (2007) and former Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson (2010).

    Michaels is a three-time WWE champion who was inducted into the organization's hall of fame in 2011 after an illustrious 26-year career.