Texas Motor Speedway makes its case for IndyCar-NASCAR twin bill

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Eddie Gossage says he’s talked to IndyCar president Jay Frye about doing a weekend doubleheader with NASCAR, and “Jay’s ready to do it tomorrow.”

To no one’s surprise, the president of Texas Motor Speedway knows just the venue that should play host to such a motorsports extravaganza.

“I think we’re the logical place for a variety of reasons,” Gossage told NBCSports.com in a recent interview.

Momentum has built the past year for bringing the country’s two biggest racing series together at the same track. A Sept. 27 exhibition run at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval by NTT Series champion Josef Newgarden sparked more talk of the possibilities.

The Roval has been tossed around as a candidate along with Richmond Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, both of which play host to both series.

But so does Texas, which has been a home to IndyCar and NASCAR annually since its April 1997 grand opening. The man who has run the 1.5-mile speedway since its inception believes credit is due for longevity and loyalty during the 1996-2008 era when IndyCar split into rival series.

“Outside of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we’ve been hosting IndyCar races longer than anybody,” Gossage said. “We can talk about the joined histories of IndyCar and CART, but the fact of the matter is some tracks didn’t go IndyCar, they went CART racing for a period of time. I don’t hold anything against them, but they made a business decision not to do business with IndyCar. They did business with the other guys.

“We should be rewarded for that. For having been there through thick and thin and some really tough days with some really hard to work with folks at IndyCar if it weren’t for our love and commitment to IndyCar racing.”

Texas has been the site of 31 IndyCar races (including twice annually from 1997-2004).

Though crowds have declined since being estimated at six figures in its early years, Gossage says the track’s location in a major media market makes it deserving.

“We’ve sustained good-sized crowds,” he said. “We have a big hole to fill with so many seats. If we had the seats that some venues have, we’d be sold out. Our crowds are quite healthy for that event. And we put on really good races, particularly for IndyCar. If you’re going to showcase both, it’s a good place. This is a rare occasion of truly a win-win. It would pull up the prestige of both series events here.

“I’m more inclined to go to Texas as a NASCAR fan because I can also see an IndyCar race. If I’m an IndyCar fan, I’ll give the NASCAR race a look. I think it definitely makes both events bigger and more successful.”

Gossage said he hasn’t had serious joint discussions about the concept yet with officials from IndyCar, NASCAR and NBC Sports Group (which broadcasts both series). “I think the TV network holds the keys, not the sanctioning bodies,” Gossage said. “I think they need the prodding of the TV network to make this happen.”

Gossage said if a weekend twin bill happened at Texas, he’d be inclined to have IndyCar in its traditional Saturday night slot.

“I think it’s incumbent on the racetrack to promote them as co-headliners,” Gossage said. “So I don’t have any problem with that. We’re known for night-time IndyCar races, and Jay pointed that out and said, ‘We’d take Saturday night, (NASCAR) can take Sunday.’ Problem solved. That’s how I’d see it going.

“I’m just really glad that everyone seems open to the discussion.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.