Eddie Gossage: Firestone 600 rescheduling ‘best way to best serve fans’

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedways)
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FORT WORTH —  In a 20-minute press conference Sunday evening at Texas Motor Speedway, track president Eddie Gossage and INDYCAR president of competition and operations Jay Frye explained why the Firestone 600 has been rescheduled for completion on Saturday, Aug. 27 due to rain on Saturday and Sunday.

“After a lot of consultation this afternoon, it was quite a meeting of people, everybody was on their phones up there calling all the right folks,” Gossage said.

The “right folks,” which included race teams, decided the race originally set for Saturday night under the lights will resume from Lap 72 with James Hinchcliffe in the lead, which is dictated by the IndyCar rule book.

“It’s pretty specific that we need to pick up where we left off,” Frye said. “(We will) run the race that night continuing from where we left with the intent of getting an entire race in for our fans and the fans here at Texas Motor Speedway. This is unique, it hasn’t happened for a little while but there are a lot of unique things here and we’ll look forward to coming back August 27.”

The race race will come a week after the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

The conclusion of the 248-lap race will begin around 7 p.m. CT, and will come after one practice and an autograph session earlier in the day featuring every Verizon IndyCar driver present at the race.

“We felt that was the best way to best serve all the fans,” Gossage said. “The lightning is still going on out there, we maybe could have hung around trying to get it dry for tonight and run enough to get to halfway, but that’s not right. We want to give the fans a race today.”

Gossage called it “kind of an unprecedented situation” and that it was “pretty much unanimous” among race teams that they wanted to complete the race.

The last time an IndyCar race was completed on a day later than it was started was in Brazil in 2011. The race was finished on May 2, after starting May 1.

The Firestone 600 was stopped on Lap 72 after 30 laps of caution following a nasty crash involving Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden. Newgarden was airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital for evaluation of his right hand and right shoulder, and later confirmed to have a fractured right clavicle and small fracture to his right hand.

Frye said both drivers would be given the chance the rejoin the race on Aug. 27, but they would be scored where they were when the red flag was displayed.

Gossage said any ticket for the Firestone 60 can be used at any Texas Motor Speedway event in the next calendar year for a ticket of equal or lesser value.

“Everybody loses in this deal, unfortunately,” Gossage said.

Said Frye, “On the expense side, this is a big expense for us too. The race teams, they all have to come back. We all got to come back. We want to do this for the fans. We want to put on a great event.”

This is the second TMS race impact by rain this year. The April NASCAR Sprint Cup race was delayed a few hours but was able reach its conclusion.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.