Sunday, June 12, 2011
TMS president open to format tweaks for '12
By Richard Durrett
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage expects to have twin races again in 2012, but wants to discuss some possible tweaks to the format.
That includes the random draw for the second race, which drew criticism from several drivers.
"The twin races I think is a great idea," said Gossage, after posing for photos with Dario Franchitti (Race 1) and Will Power (Race 2) in Victory Lane. "I thought it worked really well. We had an incredibly clean night, so anybody that was concerned that it made it more dangerous, these drivers are so good they showed they could work their way through the field safely. I think we all need to talk about it and look at things."
Those "things" include the length of the races and the draw itself.
Between races, drivers walked up on the big stage on the front stretch and flipped a tire to reveal the number of his or her starting spot -- racing's version of pulling a number out of a hat. Some of the drivers got into it, egging on the crowd to help them make their selection. Tony Kanaan was one of those. He pointed at various tires with the crowd cheering and when they got the loudest, he flipped one over to win the pole position for the race.
Franchitti wasn't as fortunate, drawing the No. 28 spot, while one of his chief competitors, Power, started third. It didn't sit well with Franchitti. His unlucky selection allowed Power to build his championship points lead, even though the second race counted for half points.
"To have a championship in the IndyCar Series, drawing the grid out of a hat is a joke," Franchitti said. "Through no fault of our own, we started 25 places behind Will. He took advantage of it tonight and did a great job.
"There's enough variables out there. We don't need to be throwing the dice to be deciding grid positions. That made me mad."
Power, who is 21 points ahead in the championship race, agreed.
"It was going to be very unfair for someone," Power said. "It happened to be Dario. Yeah, in a tightly-fought championship, you just can't have that. If it comes down to five points at the end of the year, Dario will look back and say, 'If I started where I should have, I would have had those five points.'"
Franchitti spoke for a while in Victory Lane with Gossage about his idea to invert the field after the first race. That way it's likely the drivers competing for the title would all be in the back of the field, trying to fight their way to the front. Franchitti feels that's more equitable and several other drivers, including Scott Dixon and Danica Patrick, agreed.
"That may be cool, that may be fine," Gossage said. "This is the top rung of open-wheel racing in America and therefore it is entertainment. It is show business. No apologies to anybody, but that being said, I don't know that inversion from a showbiz standpoint is less desireable than random or more desireable. It could be great. I don't know."
Gossage also wants to discuss the lenght of the races. There was only one caution in the first race and none in the second, meaning fans got to see some quick races.
"What happens if you add another pit stop?" Gossage said. "Does that make it more interesting? These are the kinds of things we can talk about."