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Friday, June 6, 2008
Gossage's worry? Two too close


FORT WORTH, Texas -- Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage's recent remarks about the future IndyCar schedule -- as reported by Terry Blount on ESPN.com -- were certainly the talk of the IndyCar Series on Friday, and not only in the paddock at TMS.

Gossage's belief that the IndyCar Series should feature at least 80 percent of its races at oval tracks was even a major discussion topic 1,000 miles away in Indianapolis, where all three sports talk radio stations debated the issue Friday afternoon.

IndyCar Series officials say they are taking a clean-sheet approach to the schedule for 2009 and beyond, and most of the leading candidates among venues being considered for the future are road or street course events, including Toronto, Cleveland, and Houston.

Now owned by Andretti Green Promotions, a race in Toronto is considered a lock. Cleveland has strong support as well, and the rights to that event and the Grand Prix of Houston (also a former CART/Champ Car World Series event) are held by Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing co-owner Mike Lanigan.

Being in the same state, I figured a street race in Houston would truly be the root of all evil to Gossage. So I asked him what he thought about the prospect.

"It depends on how far apart we're talking," he said. "I wouldn't be pleased by it, but it depends on when it's scheduled. If it's a couple months [from TMS' June IndyCar date], that's a problem. If it's five months, who cares?

"I'm not worried about it," he added. "If you look at the history of street races, or parking lot races, it's a two- or three-year blip, and then it's gone."

Gossage cited the way a pair of races in Florida about 200 miles apart at Homestead-Miami Speedway and downtown St. Petersburg are run a week apart as an example of poor scheduling.

"There's a reason that NASCAR doesn't have a west coast swing that hits Phoenix, California, and Infineon Raceway all at once," he said. "Running Homestead and St. Pete so close together makes no sense for either promoter."