Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage plans to talk with IndyCar about potential changes to cars

6 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS – The spate of airborne crashes over the past 10 days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway has sent IndyCar officials, engineers and teams scurrying for a fix entering Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.

But there might be another round of hand-wringing before the June 6 race at Texas Motor Speedway, a high-speed 1.5-mile oval where cars run at breakneck speeds just off the pace of Indy. Will Power turned a 218-896-mph lap to win the pole position for last year’s Firestone 600.

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said he plans to talk Monday with IndyCar competition president Derrick Walker about whether the series will consider making aerodynamic changes to slow the cars.

“I started to call Derrick the other day, and I thought, ‘They’ve got their hands full with the biggest race of the year,’” Gossage told NBC Sports. “I’m sure they’re thinking about all the races and what they need to do to take care of these cars and these drivers.”

According to a Friday story on RACER.com, IndyCar might consider returning to 2014 bodywork for the Texas race.

Tony Kanaan, an outspoken veteran who has served as a de-facto leader on safety and other pressing topics among drivers, believes “something is going to be done” by IndyCar officials for the Texas race.

“We have to change it,” Kanaan said.

But the 2013 Indy 500 winner isn’t expecting the series to consult its drivers, who haven’t tested the new aero kits at Texas.

“How can you ask our input? I haven’t driven at Texas,” he said. “All I can do is go try it and give them the feedback. But before (driving there), I can’t decide. We can’t give them any hints. It’s more up to the engineers than us.”

Defending Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay also hadn’t heard of changes planned yet for Texas.

“We’re going to find out like the rest of you guys,” the Andretti Autosport driver said. “We have no idea. It’s a different downforce mandate there. It’s a very different package. I haven’t heard of additional testing. We’ll run a lot less downforce there than (at Indy). Certainly, there are concerns, but I have no idea what they’ll do.”

After drivers complained about dangerous pack racing at Texas, IndyCar lowered downforce levels to try to separate cars.

If the series decides to reduce speeds for Texas as it did for Indy 500 qualifying, Gossage would be in favor.

“The best answer to every problem in racing is to go slower,” he said. “Always. If you have a problem, slow them down. That was a reasonable response at Indianapolis, though maybe it was late, for qualifying.

“Every kind of racing would be better if they would slow them down 10-15 percent. You name the series, and I’ll tell you slow them down 10-15 percent and your racing will be better. That’s not an IndyCar thing but an across the board motorsports kind of thing.”

Gossage said one thing won’t change about the way he approaches watching his race.

“I hold my breath for every lap,” he said. “So do the fans. That’s nothing new, either. That’s the amazing thing, after seeing these drivers tame all this horsepower and speed, that’s what makes it spectacular.”

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
0 Comments

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)