Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said on Saturday that any move by NASCAR to mandate a two-day, “enhanced schedule” for Cup events would not enjoy his support.
That actually doesn’t adequately describe his opposition to what at this moment appears to be only a hypothetical scenario.
However, there is concern after a handful of tracks, including Martinsville Speedway last week, limited Cup activities to two days this season on an experimental basis.
The Cup’s standard format is practice on Friday, practice and qualifying on Saturday, and the race on Sunday. In the two-day format, no activities on Friday, practice Saturday, and qualify and race on Sunday.
The substitute for Friday is a “fan experience,” with driver appearances and the such. NASCAR officials said it has been popular.
The essential benefit for a two-day schedule, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn, is financial. Teams save a bunch of money, particularly on lodging for team members that can number 50 or more.
The drivers are also thought to prefer an extra day off.
The reason Gossage is so opposed? His customers in Texas – the fans – want a three-day Cup experience. And it would hurt the track financially. It just simply doesn’t work for TMS, Gossage said.
“There will be no camping,” Gossage said of a two-day directive. “Are you going drag your stuff out here to camp Saturday night and leave Sunday? Camping is the one revenue stream that is increasing.
“So let’s cut the legs off of that.”
TMS was ordered to try this once before, Gossage said.
“Three years ago they cut a day off of cup activity. They took Thursday away,” Gossage recalled. “We were the only one on the schedule [to do two days]. Our camping dropped 40 percent, which we have not recovered from.
“We’re growing back up. It was a multi-million dollar hit, that deal was.”
Gossage said he has made his opinions known about it, emphasizing that there is nothing “enhanced” about subtracting a day.
Kenseth stepping away
Matt Kenseth, without a ride for 2018, said Saturday he is “taking a break” from NASAR and will not compete in 2018.
The 45-year-old believes his hiatus might permanent.
The 2003 Cup series champion said during a taping of a “NASCAR on NBC” podcast that “I don’t know what that means. I don’t know if that’s forever. I don’t know if that’s a month or I don’t know if that’s five months. I don’t know if that’s two years. Most likely when you’re gone, you don’t get the opportunity again. I just don’t really feel it’s in the cards.”
Joe Gibbs racing announced in July that Erik Jones would succeed Kenseth as driver of the No. 20 Toyota next season.
Kenseth has been unable to find a team.
Trolling on Twitter
Gossage went trolling on Twitter on Friday night, sending out a lure Tony Stewart’s way.
Before Kurt Busch’s lightning TMS track-record run of 200.915 mph in qualifying, Stewart had been the only driver to exceed 200 mph. (200.111 mph in the 2014 fall race.)
“He is very proud of that,” Gossage said. “Every time I talk to him he reminds me. ‘The only driver over 200.’ He told me a month ago when he was here. ‘I hope it doesn’t speed up. I want to be the only guy over 200.’
“I was trolling him. And I got nothing.”
Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota took a spin around the speedway’s 1 1/2-mile oval in 191.469 mph, the fastest of the Cup drivers during practice on Satuday.
Hamlin, seventh in the NASCAR Cup playoffs, will start second in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
Erik Jones and Ryan Blaney, a playoff driver, were next at 190.860 and 190.691.
Double day for Blaney?
Let the speculation begin about Ryan Blaney and the Memorial Day Double, the feat of driving in both the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Cup’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day in May.
“I’d love to do it,” said Blaney, sixth in this season’s NASCAR Cup playoffs. “I have a lot of respect for the people that have done it. That is a tough day of racing, 1,100 miles and the plane rides back and forth.
“It is something I have always wanted to do. Maybe down the road.