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.”

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.