Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage expressed disappointment in how his summer race weekend turned out.
Rain wreaked havoc on IndyCar’s Firestone 600. The race was postponed Saturday night after heavy rainfall, and then had another delay Sunday.
It finally started at 1:49 p.m. Sunday, but was halted after 71 laps when more rain hit the area. With additional rain in the forecast Monday, IndyCar and track officials decided the best option would be to resume the race Aug. 27, a Saturday.
James Hinchcliffe will be the leader followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay and Mikhail Aleshin.
“It’s frustrating,” Gossage said. “This is the nature of things when you do this sport. You hate to see this happen. You want to do the best for your fans. That’s who all of us work for. That’s who we want to please.
“So, man, it’s frustrating to us. But what can you do? You cannot beat Mother Nature.”
Fans who had tickets for the race can use them for the August date. If fans cannot make that race, the track will exchange them for a future race within the year for equal or lesser value.
The tentative plan calls for a full-day event Aug. 27, with a practice session and an autograph session. The race would resume about 7 p.m.
Gossage joked that he would have liked to see Texas become the regular-season finale for the IndyCar Series and crown the champion, but he is OK settling as one of the final stops in the championship.
But he lamented the difficulty the track has had with rain this season. The NASCAR Sprint Cup race in April was delayed by two hours and didn’t finish until after midnight, and TMS struggled to get the racing surface suitable for the IndyCars this weekend.
Gossage had a lengthy explanation why TMS couldn’t get the racing surface ready. It’s an older surface, something that drivers like, but that makes it more difficult to dry.
It’s a Catch-22, in other words, and hard to justify repaving the track.
“We’re going through a rough patch,” Gossage said. “Do you want to repave and seal it off? Or do you deal with it? Every race-car driver tells you, without exception, don’t repave. So we’re just being dealt a tough hand by nature.”
Gossage also wasn’t happy with the communication between TMS officials and IndyCar on Sunday. TMS felt it had the surface ready at 10:30 a.m., but IndyCar officials complained at 1 p.m. about a spot on Turn 2.
That issue delayed the scheduled start from 1:06 p.m. to 1:49 p.m. Without that delay, the race likely would have completed the necessary 125 laps of the 248-lap race to make it official.
But, as IndyCar president of competition and operations Jay Frye said: “If everything would have played out, we might have got to halfway. But we wouldn’t have completed the event. That’s not our intention. Our intention is to complete all of our events, which obviously coming back in August, we’ll have a much better shot to do that.”
Gossage and Frye were in agreement with the racing they did see Sunday. Both felt it was better than what IndyCar had brought to Texas in recent years.
However, the better racing took a backseat during a horrific crash on Lap 42 involving Josef Newgarden and rookie Conor Daly.
Coming out of Turn 4, Daly got loose and turned into Newgarden, pushing him hard into a SAFER barrier wall. That softened the initial impact, but Newgarden got upside down and had his cockpit exposed during a secondary hit into the wall.
Both cars were heavily damaged, but the drivers managed to get out of their cars. Daly walked off under his own power, while Newgarden went down to the asphalt holding his right shoulder.
Newgarden was taken off on a stretcher, but waved to the crowd with his left hand. He was then airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.
IndyCar announced later that Newgarden sustained a fractured right clavicle and a small fracture in his right hand, and was expected to be released Sunday evening.
In a statement, Newgarden said: “I’m banged up a little bit, but I’m generally OK. That’s all thanks to IndyCar and all the work everyone within the series does. I am feeling a little pain, but I hope to be ready to rock and go again soon.”
Daly took blame for the accident.
“I apologized to [Newgarden] in there [the infield care center] because it was my mistake, for sure,” Daly said. “He’s a tough kid; I grew up with him. I feel so bad. To ruin someone’s race is never good.”
The race resumed after the accident, but not for long. It was red-flagged at 2:42 p.m. by rain.
Daly and Newgarden will be able to rejoin the race, Frye said, but will do so as many laps down as they were when the race stopped.
Firestone 600 at TMS
7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 27