With Final Four in town, Texas Motor Speedway and NASCAR turn compromise into potential

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Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage is known for being a trendsetter, a leader rather than a follower and someone who wants his racetrack ahead of all others.

However, this weekend is one of those rare times that Gossage has out of necessity adopted a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude.

With the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four games less than 30 miles away at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, it would be hard for Gossage and NASCAR to compete head-to-head with the biggest college hoops games of the year.

But by adjusting this weekend’s traditional race schedule, TMS may wind up attracting some fans in town to attend the Final Four and potentially have a strong walk-up for Sunday’s Duck Commander 500 Sprint Cup race.

Gossage has even gone so far as to advertise directly to Wisconsin, Florida, Connecticut and Kentucky fans that are in the Arlington area for the Final Four, inviting them to come over to TMS for some great racing when they’re not watching the roundballers.

Here’s how TMS has revamped its weekend schedule to accommodate the Final Four:

First, the Nationwide Series race takes place Friday night at 8:30 p.m. ET.

On Saturday, it’ll be a relatively quick day for the Sprint Cup guys, who will have Happy Hour practice from 10:30 a.m. to Noon ET, followed by Cup qualifying at 3:10 p.m. ET.

Makes sense, since the first Final Four game tips off three hours later, giving diehard sports fans the opportunity to start their day at TMS and finish it in Arlington.

Don’t be surprised if you see several Cup drivers in attendance at the game.

Although the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex area was literally swamped by heavy rainstorms on Thursday, the rest of the weekend looks good for NASCAR.

The weather better cooperate, because the last thing NASCAR and Gossage likely want to do is run a rescheduled race on Monday – the same day that Final Four championship game takes place.

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Lauda labels Verstappen USGP penalty ‘the worst I’ve ever seen’

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Mercedes Formula 1 non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has called the FIA stewards’ decision to penalize Max Verstappen for his last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as “the worst I’ve ever seen”.

Verstappen charged from 16th on the grid to take third place from Raikkonen on the last lap after a stunning fight through the field, completing the fightback with a bold pass in the final sector.

However, the stewards stripped Verstappen of P3 after he appeared to put all four wheels off the circuit when riding the kerb to pass Raikkonen, causing outcry in the F1 community.

Speaking to reporters after the race in Austin, Lauda condemned the stewards’ decision, slamming them for interfering in the late fight.

“We had meetings at the start of the year to see how far stewards should go in decisions during a race because it always says ‘under investigation’,” Lauda said, as quoted by Crash.net.

“So we complained about that and we agreed all together that the stewards would not interfere – very simple.

“If the driver goes over another and upside down, only then would they weigh in. That was at the beginning of last year.

“For six months it was OK, but this decision was the worst I’ve ever seen. He did nothing wrong.”

Lauda said F1 team bosses would discuss stewarding at the next Strategy Group meeting, which is due to be held in the next two weeks.

“These are racing drivers. We are not on the normal roads and it is ridiculous to destroy the sport with these kind of decisions,” Lauda said.

“At the next strategy meeting, we will put it back on the agenda and start all over again, because we cannot do that.

“They go too far and interfere and there was nothing to interfere with. It was normal overtaking.”