Eddie Gossage: “Foolish move” by F1 to go head-to-head with NASCAR at Texas

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This morning’s release of the final 2014 F1 schedule revealed that the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas had moved up one week to Nov. 2, 2014.

But on that very weekend, a few hours up the road in Fort Worth, all three NASCAR national series will be competing at Texas Motor Speedway. And on the same day as the USGP, the Sprint Cup contingent will be resuming their championship Chase at TMS, too.

Cue TMS president/general manager Eddie Gossage, who just absolutely loves this development. Actually, no, he doesn’t.

“It’s a foolish move by Formula One,” Gossage said in a terse statement. “Our two NASCAR Sprint Cup races draw the two largest crowds in Texas sports. It isn’t the smartest move to try to compete with that.

“I’m sure regardless of what they say publicly, the folks at the Austin track are pulling their hair out over this one. They don’t have any say over their date.”

It’s not the first time Gossage has gone on the offensive against what he perceives are threats to his race track and its well-being. He wasn’t thrilled with IndyCar’s decision to return to Houston this year, and back in August, he showed his displeasure over the series reportedly eyeing a potential third event in Texas at COTA.

Now, the world’s most popular motorsport and America’s most popular motorsport are set to go head-to-head in the Lone Star State next fall.

Gossage seemed to assert that COTA is frustrated with the FIA’s decision regarding the USGP date for 2014. But if that’s the case, they’re at least not showing it publicly.

In a statement, COTA chairman Bobby Epstein said the track was pleased that the USGP wouldn’t conflict with any major conventions in the Austin region. He then focused on the situation of having to overlap with NASCAR:

“Due to the large number of NASCAR events scheduled annually, there will occasionally be overlaps with events at Circuit of The Americas, and that will happen next year. However there are few similarities between a NASCAR race and the Formula 1 weekend we have developed. The F1 USGP is a massive, fun and entertaining experience that has performed well against all kinds of competition. Many members of the public were concerned that our first F1 race fell on the same date as the season-ending NASCAR race in Homestead, Fla., and it proved to be a non-issue. Ultimately, we see this as a great opportunity to draw sports fans from around the world to Texas and to proving again that Austin is the place to enjoy premium racing and entertainment.”

It will be interesting to see what kind of impact both events could have upon the other.

Oliver Askew: ‘I was starting to lose confidence’ after ‘hardest hit I’ve had’

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Oliver Askew knew something was medically wrong in the days after concussion-like symptoms began from “the hardest hit I’ve ever had” in the Indianapolis 500. He’d been evaluated and cleared to race after the Aug. 23 crash, but he just didn’t feel right.

The IndyCar rookie told The Associated Press on Thursday he has been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed in the Aug. 23 race. He continued to race in four more events as he tried to “play through it” until friends and family encouraged him to seek medical treatment.

He since has been diagnosed with a concussion and is working on a recovery plan with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s sports medicine concussion program, the same place NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. received care after concussions in 2012 and ’16. Askew will not compete in next weekend’s doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis, and Arrow McLaren SP will put three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“This is all I’ve worked for,” the 23-year-old told AP. “I don’t come from money, and I’ve worked my way up and have finally gotten my shot in a good car. And then all of a sudden, the results just weren’t there in a car I knew should be performing. And I just didn’t feel like myself, you know?

“So initially I felt like I needed to stay in the car and continue to improve. And then I didn’t feel like I could do that with my condition and what was going on. I was starting to lose confidence in myself.”

Earnhardt praised Askew for going to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins.

“Oliver is in the best hands when it comes to taking care of this problem and getting back on the racetrack. It was very smart of him to get in front of Micky so that he could understand the seriousness of the situation and begin the process of getting well,” Earnhardt said. “You can absolutely heal from this but not without taking the step of getting help. Often that’s the most difficult step.”

Athletes often hide injuries to continue competing, and even Earnhardt admittedly masked concussions during his driving career. Askew didn’t know what was wrong with him but was frightened to get out of the car.

He is a paid driver who brings no sponsorship money to the team (but did bring a $1 million scholarship for winning last year’s Indy Lights championship), and owner Sam Schmidt holds the option on his contract.

As he tried to race on, his performance suffered. Askew had finished third and sixth at Iowa — the previous two races before Indianapolis. After the crash, he was part of a multicar accident the next week at Gateway and has not finished higher than 14th in the four races since Indy.

A year after winning seven Indy Lights races, Askew has fallen from 12th to 18th in the standings and slipped considerably off the pace. He said he struggled in team debriefs, had difficulty giving feedback and has gone through a personality change that was noticeable to those close to Askew.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which represents Askew and was among those who pushed the driver to see a doctor, noted Arrow McLaren SP did not reveal that Askew was suffering from a concussion in its Thursday announcement he would miss next week’s race.

“Oliver clearly demonstrated his talent until Lap 91 of the Indianapolis 500, and I hope this does not become another case study of why athletes do not tell their teams they are injured,” said agent Jeff Dickerson. “The reason they do that is because more often times than not they are replaced. In motorsports, there is always somebody to replace you, and whether it was Dale Jr. or Oliver Askew, there is always another driver available.

“I hope this is not a barrier to progress for other drivers — especially young drivers afraid of losing their job — to notify their teams they are hurt. I hope the team proves me wrong because the good news is, the kid has had a head injury for the past month and has still run 14th in IndyCar.”

After finally seeking medical treatment, Askew said he was relieved to learn there was something wrong. He said doctors told him the injury has a “100% recovery rate” and he believes he will be able to race in the IndyCar season finale next month at St. Petersburg. He’s been rehabilitating with exercises and tasks that strain the brain such as deliberately going to grocery stores and the airport.

“Honestly, you know, if I had not gone to see medical professionals I would probably stay in the car,” Askew said. “But now after hearing what’s wrong and that it could get worse, God forbid I have another hit, I know I did the right thing. I think I can be an example for young drivers now in stepping up and saying something is wrong, I need to have this checked out.”