Eddie Gossage

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.”