Gossage: Nothing can minimize the pain either Stewart, Ward family feels

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Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage, who’s known as one of the better promoters in racing, said both Tony Stewart and the Ward family need time to heal and recover from the pain they’re both feeling as a result of Saturday night’s incident that claimed Kevin Ward Jr.’s life.

Gossage, who’s known and promoted Stewart’s races at least since he was then racing in the Indy Racing League at TMS’ first year of operations in 1997, and annually in NASCAR since 1999, discussed the situation Wednesday on Voices of the Game with Newy Scruggs, on NBCSportsRadio.com.

“It’s a sad horrible tragic mess. If I were in his (Kevin Ward Sr.’s) shoes, I’d be crushed, so I totally understand his feelings,” Gossage said.

“And the one thing I do know is that Tony would not (intentionally) have hit that young man… if he had a way to avoid it, he would have,” he added. “It’s just an accident, but a tragic one.”

Gossage said he didn’t know if Stewart will be able to find the mental fortitude needed to compartmentalize the events of Saturday night and race this weekend in Michigan. Stewart’s status for the race is uncertain.

“I don’t know. I’d have to know where his mind is,” Gossage said. “I can only imagine he is just crushed by this. Knowing how Tony is such a big-hearted, emotional person, that’s good and bad. In a situation like this it’s not something that you can easily compartmentalize.

“Tony doesn’t really have any family. His mom and dad, yes. But he’s not married, no kids. I don’t even think he has a girlfriend right now. There’s something to be said for having friendly faces around him.

“Nothing you can say can minimize the pain he’s dealing with, or the Ward family either.”

Lastly as a track promoter and president, Gossage understands the business side – Stewart, as team co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and owner Eldora Speedway has what Gossage estimated as 600 to 1,000 people he needs to take care of.

“Without him, they don’t have a job,” Gossage said. “That’s something I know he thought about, a year ago; the impact it has on those people. It’s one of those things.

“Running Texas Motor Speedway, I feel an obligation to every family and knowing their way of life.

“Tony’s ‘golf game’ is running sprint car races on dirt. Sunday is when he’s working.”

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Sebastien Bourdais

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. A dream start occurred for Sebastien Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing team upon their reunion, followed by a nightmare in Indianapolis with a huge crash in qualifying, and ended with a rapid recovery to build confidence for 2018.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2016: 14th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 24 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 11.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 21st Place (8 Starts), 1 Win, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 74 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 11.0 Avg. Finish

The 2017 campaign for Sebastien Bourdais upon his return to Dale Coyne Racing will forever be known as both a year of “what could have been” and a year of “what a comeback it was.”

The abnormal season for Bourdais stretched eight races with a three-month break in the middle owing to his own mistake qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, which left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fracture to his right hip. His car was a rocket ship; but after two laps at 231 mph, Bourdais appeared to over-correct and destroyed the wall at Turn 2 in Indy in a massive 127G impact. It was a horrific looking accident, but one that also saw Bourdais rather lucky to have not been injured worse.

It set forth in motion an incredible recovery that saw Bourdais back testing the Monday after Mid-Ohio, just over two months since the accident, then in race action just over three months later at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval, and because Bourdais is a regulation badass, he finished in the top-10 straight out of the box. He worked as hard as he did to return earlier than anticipated to avoid an offseason of questions asking if he’d come back and if he’d be strong enough to do so.

The recovery was a welcome story to end the year after the agony at Indy that stopped a potential title run or certainly top-five in points finish in its tracks. A classic Coyne strategy special vaulted Bourdais from last to first and a popular win in his U.S. hometown of St. Petersburg to kick off the year. A second place at Long Beach backed it up and eighth at Barber kept him atop the standings.

But Indy was shaping up to be an important bounce back weekend after Bourdais got taken out in Phoenix, then incurred an engine failure in the IMS road course race. And then, of course, his loud and violent accident qualifying for the ‘500 changed the course of the season.

After three “almost there” but largely unfulfilling years at KV Racing Technology, Bourdais embraced the family atmosphere back at Coyne along with longtime engineers Craig Hampson and Olivier Boisson, determined to continue punching above the team’s weight. He crafted a remarkable story all season and will be keen to fulfill it over the course of a proper full campaign in 2018.