Texas Motor Speedway

Regardless of what Kyle Busch says, TMS’ Eddie Gossage fired up for IndyCar

Kyle Busch ripped the IndyCar Series this weekend.

The veteran NASCAR driver told reporters “there’s no race on the IndyCar circuit that’s worth running besides the Indy 500.”

That notion led Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage to reply, in jest, “Forgive poor @KyleBusch for he does not know of what he says. @IndyCar @IndyCaronNBC @TXMotorSpeedway.”

Gossage clarified his comments as just being “silly,” and feels Busch popped off on a variety of topics on Saturday out of frustration (before winning Sunday’s Pocono 400, of course). At the end of the day, Busch’s take on IndyCar isn’t very important as he’s never driven in the open-wheel racing series.

For Gossage, the series is coming to town at just the right time with the DXC Technology 600 on Saturday night at TMS. The Indianapolis 500 had a thrilling finish that saw Simon Pagenaud become the first Frenchman to win the prestigious race since Gaston Chevrolet in 1920.

Yes, that Chevrolet -- Gaston is the brother of Chevy founder Louis Chevrolet.

“That was an Indy 500 for the ages,” Gossage said. “We almost always have an instant classic here at Texas and, if it’s anything like this year’s Indy 500 in terms of competition, closeness and a wild finish, then our fans will be very satisfied.

“Simon winning is a great storyline. If you would’ve asked me, I think I’m pretty educated on the history and facts and statistics of the Indy 500, I wouldn’t have told you that it’s been since Gaston Chevrolet in the 1920s since a Frenchman has won. That’s a little surprising, but maybe it’ll open the door for more French fans to follow the sport.”

Gossage said the track has been busy reaching out to various French groups in the DFW area, offering them ticket specials and things of that nature to support Pagenaud and his historic win this weekend at Texas.

Outside of the inherent Indy 500 storylines coming into TMS’ summer race weekend, here’s what else to watch this weekend --

Stabilizing series

There have been questions in the past regarding IndyCar’s future at TMS. The series is trending away from oval tracks because of the danger drivers face running these races, but Texas has always been a staple on the series’ schedule.

That will continue at least through 2022 as TMS and IndyCar reached a new agreement last summer.

But IndyCar added a race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin this season, something that TMS is feeling a ripple effect from.

“Where it’s made a difference is that some sponsors will only execute at one or the other venue, meaning hospitality and blocks of tickets and things of that nature,” Gossage said. “That’s where we’ve felt it. Some are here, some are in Austin, whereas before they all came here.

“But we cut a deal with IndyCar that we’re comfortable with, we’re happy with, so I’m not losing any sleep over it.”

TMS has been the longest-running event for IndyCar outside of the Indy 500. The series has raced at Texas since the track’s inaugural season in 1997, which means this year marks the 23rd consecutive year with an IndyCar race.

Drivers to watch

Scott Dixon had a dominant showing in last year’s race, leading 119 of 248 laps en route to his third victory at Texas.

The Chip Ganassi Racing veteran has to be considered among the favorites once again, as Dixon has 13 top 10 finishes in 19 career starts at TMS. Plus, Dixon is coming off his first win of the season Sunday in Detroit.

A few other candidates?

How about Alexander Rossi, who is coming off a runner-up finish at the Indy 500? Rossi finished third at Texas last season, and is the best chance for Andretti Autosport to get its first win at Texas.

Or don’t forget about Will Power, the Team Penske driver who has two career wins at Texas, and his teammate, Josef Newgarden, who was the pole-sitter a year ago and seems destined to breakthrough for a win at Texas some point soon. Newgarden won Saturday’s race in Detroit.

As Gossage put it, “The competition all throughout pit road is just amazing. That’s one of the cool things about IndyCar is that anyone has a shot at winning.”

Girl Power

Greg Biffle returning to the NASCAR truck series this weekend is the headliner for the SpeedyCash.com 400 on Friday night, but it’ll also be a significant moment in TMS history.

Three women will be competing in the NASCAR truck race, a first in TMS’ history -- Jennifer Jo Cobb, Angela Ruch and Natalie Decker.

Cobb is a veteran in the series and will be making her 18th career truck start at Texas, but has never finished in the top 10.

Ruch is running for Niece Motorsports, and finished 30th in her TMS trucks debut earlier this spring. And Decker is a 21-year-old who is making her TMS debut this weekend, and starting in just her seventh career truck race.

Don’t miss

If you’re in downtown Fort Worth on Thursday, it’s worth heading over to West 2nd Street between Taylor Street and Burnett Street during the lunch hour for a first-hand look at IndyCar teams doing a “pit stop challenge.”

Drivers from Team Penske (Indy 500 champion Pagenaud and Newgarden) and Chip Ganassi Racing (defending TMS champion Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist), as well as their respective pit crews, will compete head-to-head in a knockout-style format.

The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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