Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage had little to complain about after the summer race weekend.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday produced an entertaining race narrowly won by Oklahoman Christopher Bell, and the IndyCar race on Saturday had plenty of drama on a night when Will Power avoided wrecks and prevailed.
Oh, and the new racing surface dried in a timely fashion when the track was hit with a steady rain shower on Friday morning.
“On a scale of 1-10, I think everything was about an eight,” Gossage said. “I don’t know how you can ask for anything more from a racing perspective. I would’ve liked to see them both finish under green — that was the only thing keeping it from an A-plus-plus was having both finish under yellow. But great, great weekend.”
Here are the Star-Telegram’s five takeaways from the weekend.
1. Pack race concerns. Veteran Tony Kanaan expressed concern about the pack racing after the race on Saturday. For drivers such as Kanaan, that type of racing is too dangerous for the series and the possibility of a life-threatening wreck is too steep.
“I don’t think we should be doing this the way it is,” Kanaan said. “We should be coming to Texas. The fans are great. This track is awesome. But I think we should change the format a little bit. How? I don’t know. We’ve got to figure it out.”
Gossage couldn’t disagree more with Kanaan. Saturday produced exactly the type of racing Gossage and the fans want.
The race featured plenty of passing and none of the wrecks would be considered “serious” or “life-threatening.”
“They’ve got it figured out. If they change it, that’d be a mistake,” Gossage said. “This is the racing we expect every time IndyCar is here because they’ve done it far more often than they haven’t. And, to be honest, accidents are caused by drivers, not the race track.
“I could name a name for every incident tonight where ‘Driver A’ should not have run into ‘Driver B.’ But this is the type of racing they do well and they’re awesome at it. If IndyCar were to say, ‘We can’t do this again?’ Then we wouldn’t want to have them back.”
2. Another TMS moment. Kanaan is among the most respected drivers in IndyCar. He’s been an open-wheel staple since 1998, but made head-scratching moves on Saturday night. He took blame for causing a nine-car pileup and also was involved in an earlier accident that ended Alexander Rossi’s day.
It’s reminiscent of the 2010 NASCAR fall race when another respected veteran, Jeff Burton, wrecked Jeff Gordon and the two fought afterward.
Both seemed out of character for each driver, but TMS never disappoints when it comes to competitive juices overflowing.
As Kanaan said, “Apparently I don’t have any friends. It is what it is. I guess I’m getting blamed for everything.”
3. Home-field win? Will Power’s win might have been somewhat lost in the Kanaan drama and wreck-filled race. But, make no mistake, this is a significant win for Power. The Australian considers Texas his “second home” because his wife, Liz, is from Plano, and he clearly enjoyed the moment afterward.
“All the family is here, it just feels awesome,” Power said. “Her cousin said, ‘Man, you haven’t won for me here yet.’ And he has come year after year and I really didn’t think that it would be this weekend. But, oh man, you don’t understand how good that feels.”
Power is missing an Indianapolis 500 on his résumé, but a second Texas win (along with the second twin race in 2011) might rank up there for him.
4. New asphalt passes test. The re-paved and re-configured racing surface did its job in helping the track dry in a timely fashion on Friday morning. The track got steady showers and had to push back most of its activities about an hour.
The only thing canceled on the day was an IndyCar autograph session. Would have that been the case a year ago?
“Oh no,” Gossage said. “We couldn’t have gotten in the IndyCar practices on Friday afternoon and I don’t know if we would’ve even been able to get in the truck race at night. That’s why we re-paved and re-configured the track. We couldn’t roll the dice again.”
5. Raving on ruckus. Props to the track for adding an off-road ruckus portion to the race weekend featuring Stadium Super Trucks and an off-road trade show in the infield. The SST trucks provided more entertainment for fans, and the trade show broadened the fan base by attracting families whose children could do things such as ride along in a monster truck.
Gossage expects to build on this going forward. SST founder and driver Robby Gordon wants to return, and Gossage sees much more potential in the “ruckus” portion put on by the track.
“I think we hit on a good deal and it complemented well with everything we were doing,” Gossage said. “I think we can execute the ruckus portion of the deal better, and we’ll do it better next time.”