Eddie Gossage hopes Santa Claus brings him an early Christmas gift. Photo: Getty Images

Texas Motor Speedway boss wants IndyCar back, as well as return after Indy 500

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Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage wants an early Christmas present: a new agreement that keeps the Verizon IndyCar Series racing at the 1.5-mile Fort Worth track for many more years to come.

This past Saturday night’s race marked the end of the most recent agreement between the racing series and TMS, which has hosted IndyCar for the last 22 years (since 1997).

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, both IndyCar and TMS officials are expected to begin negotiations on a new multi-year agreement in the next month or so.

Gossage hopes to get his early Christmas present signed, sealed and delivered by the end of August, when the track traditionally begins selling tickets for the following year’s race.

“I would certainly hope we could reach a business deal,” Gossage told the S-T. “They’ve been here for 22 years, so I don’t know why that’s going to change.”

IndyCar has been on an upswing in terms of popularity and attention over the last few years, something that’s not lost on Gossage. There’s no question he wants the open-wheel series to keep returning to TMS year after year.

But Gossage would like to see one significant change in a new agreement, to return the annual race to its former place on the IndyCar schedule: the week after the Indianapolis 500.

It had been that way from 1997 through 2005, before the former IndyCar administration chose to insert another venue into the schedule the weekend after the 500.

In 2006, Watkins Glen followed the 500, while Texas was next.

The Milwaukee Mile followed the 500 from 2007 through 2009.

TMS returned to its former spot on the IndyCar schedule the weekend after the Indy 500 in 2010 and 2011, before the temporary road course at Belle Isle in downtown Detroit, Michigan, took over that spot and has continued in that slot ever since.

Although IndyCar officials are still working on race slots for the 2019 schedule, Gossage told the Star-Telegram he had a gentleman’s agreement with a prior IndyCar administration that TMS would always be the first race after the Indy 500.

“Hopefully that’ll happen again,” Gossage told the S-T. “This race should be the race after Indy. If you’re trying to capture fans who enjoy the Indy 500 and want to watch the next race, do you want them to see Detroit’s temporary street course?

“Or do you want them to see racing on one of the grand ovals for IndyCar? I would certainly fix that. It’d be good for IndyCar; it’d be good for Texas Motor Speedway.”

IndyCar has been a welcome guest to TMS, not to mention being one of the more popular races on the series’ schedule. That included two races per year at TMS from 1998 through 2004, as well as in the 2011 season, for a total of 30 visits by the series over the years.

While returning a second race to the schedule doesn’t seem to be in the cards, at least for the near future, if TMS can get IndyCar to return its race date to the weekend after the Indy 500, Gossage would be a happy man.

Scott Dixon, who won Saturday night’s race, says racing at TMS is one of his favorite – not to mention successful (three wins, 8 podium finishes in 19 starts) – venues.

“It’s always been a special place,” Dixon told the Star-Telegram. “I think Eddie and his whole team just do a fantastic job. I love coming here.”

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Scott Dixon fastest on the second day of Indianapolis 500 practice

Indy 500 practice Dixon
James Black/IndyCar
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Scott Dixon was fastest on the second day of Indy 500 practice Thursday, turning a lap at 226.102 mph in his No. 9 Dallara-Honda at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Takuma Sato was second, followed by Marco Andretti, Conor Daly and rookie Alex Palou.

The rest of the top 10 were: Colton Herta, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Fernando Alonso and James Davison.

THURSDAY PRACTICE: Click here for Day 2 speeds at Indianapolis

COMBINED SPEEDS: Click here for the overall speeds from the first two days

The session had one incident as Alonso crashed with just less than an hour left in the session. The Arrow McLaren SP driver was optimistic that the car could be repaired without a backup.

Among the other notables on the speed chart Thursday: Ryan Hunter-Reay (11th); Tony Kanaan (14th); Helio Castroneves (16th); Josef Newgarden (18th); Graham Rahal (19th); Will Power (23rd); Alexander Rossi (26th) and defending race winner Simon Pagenaud (27th).

Felix Rosenqvist (24th) and rookie Dalton Kellett turned the most laps (141) around the 2.5-mile oval.

Teams mostly focused on race setup Thursday as they will receive 80 extra horsepower in the “Fast Friday” practice that will feature speeds above 230 mph for qualifying Saturday and Sunday.

The Indy 500 will take place Aug. 23; coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on NBC with the green flag at 2:30 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH THE INDY 500 ON NBCDetails for the Aug. 23 race

DAILY INDY 500 SCHEDULEClick here for all on-track activity in August at Indy