Monday, June 11, 2012
Eddie Gossage waits on IndyCar
By Terry Blount
Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said he wants IndyCar Series officials to make a decision within two weeks about returning to TMS for the 2013 season.
"If they want to race here, let's race," Gossage said Monday. "If they don't, that's fine. We'll announce it tomorrow. No hard feelings. But I want to make a deal within a couple of weeks.
"I'm not going to let this linger like we did last year. My desire is for IndyCar to stay, but we have a plan in place either way."
IndyCar has raced at TMS every year since the speedway opened in 1997, including twice a year from 1998 through 2004. Most of the TMS races have produced the highest attendance in American open-wheel racing outside of the Indy 500.
IndyCar had another successful event Saturday night at TMS with a crowd of 69,000. Some drivers had concerns about racing in Texas this time, the first event on a high-banked, 1.5-mile oval since Dan Wheldon was killed in a crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last October.
But the drivers were praising TMS after Saturday's event, saying aerodynamic changes made to the new DW12 chassis eliminated pack racing and made them more comfortable on the high-speed track.
"It amazed me how drivers said we finally had a good and safe race here," Gossage said. "We've always had that. And I'm not going to have happen what happened last year with all the negative talk. All that carrying on isn't right.
"We have a great safety record here in IndyCar, better than Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But if some drivers don't like racing here, they can sit out. I just don't know why they were beating on us. I don't know how you do this in a contract, but we want to be treated with respect, courtesy and dignity."
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard told The Indianapolis Star that he wants to be the promoter at Texas if the series is going to return, a proposal Gossage found laughable.
"If he wants to put in an application, we'll look at it," Gossage said. "I told Randy I'm not worried about what's in the papers. But we are going to work this out one way or the other very soon."
Bernard also said IndyCar is interested in running the new Austin road course in 2013, which will play host to its inaugural Formula One event in November. IndyCar already has added a race in Houston (around Reliant Stadium) next year.
Gossage said he has two options if IndyCar doesn't return to TMS. One is to run the NASCAR Nationwide Series with the Camping World Truck Series in the June weekend.
"We've talking about that possibility," Gossage said. "NASCAR would be all for it. And we want to add Global RallyCross in also, which was a big hit for our fans last weekend."
The CWTS always has raced as a companion event with the June IndyCar event at TMS. GRC raced at TMS for the first time Saturday.
The other option is to eliminate the June weekend and run two tripleheader weekends in April and November with all three NASCAR series -- Sprint Cup, Nationwide and the CWTS.
"I'm a little torn," Gossage said. "Our research shows many fans would like to have two tripleheader weekends so they don't have to travel three times. But my gut tells me three weekends are better. I'd rather have an event in the middle of the year and not go that long between race weekends."