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Eddie Gossage, Graham Rahal: No TMS danger

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Although any notion of a June boycott by IndyCar Series drivers had already been extinguished, it still was a hot topic during Texas Motor Speedway's media day Tuesday.

Track president Eddie Gossage said he hadn't heard from any drivers about safety concerns, specifically the fencing around the high-banked oval. And that's why he reacted angrily after reading about such concerns on a web site report last week.

Gossage remained defensive of the track's safety record Tuesday, adding that he's already talked to IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard.

"We're going to do what's right," Gossage said. "You never compromise safety. ... We're the only people that have had any engineers look at it. I think everybody has a better handle on it. They say they never talked about a boycott. ... I just know what I read."

Gossage also was quick to point out that last year's Firestone Twin 275 races only had one caution.

"I don't know why a speedway that had two races with one caution last year was suddenly the target," Gossage said.

Safety issues became paramount after driver Dan Wheldon died during a horrific crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October. Wheldon's car went airborne during the accident and the driver's head hit a pole on the fencing, which is similar to that used at TMS.

"Safety is not something to joke about. Safety is not something to take lightly. And we're not about to," Gossage said. "It's coming on the heels of a really catastrophic event ... and everybody is ultrasensitive to it.

"You can have emotional feelings about it, but the solution is a fact-based solution. I'm emotional about Dan because I cared a lot about Dan. He was a good guy, a good friend, everything about him ... and it was so tragic. But when you start talking about 'now what,' that has to be based solely on facts. Solely."

IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal, who was at the track Tuesday, said there are no safety concerns at TMS, which has hosted 23 IndyCar races since 1997 -- 16 of which have been decided by less than one second.

"It's never been something that crossed my mind," Rahal said. "Texas has always put on close races. Does that make a driver more nervous? Yeah, but it would make anybody more nervous. We realize that our sport is two things: Obviously to go fast in race cars, and it's also entertainment. The fans like to see close racing.

"The show we put on here is second to none," Rahal said. "We want to be here."