Monday, February 9, 2009
Gossage praises Earnhardt's commitment to fans
Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage said he and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have buried the hatchet.
The two men had a two-week disagreement and exchanged barbs over who needs to do more for the fans in tough economic times -- speedway executives or drivers.
"Dale Jr. is doing all he can and we're doing all we can," Gossage said. "I talked to Junior's representatives [Saturday] and learned some things they were doing that most people don't know about."
One of those things is lowering prices on some of Junior's merchandise items. Gossage said Friday that Earnhardt should be willing to reduce prices on his souvenir products after insisting speedways reduce tickets prices, which most have done.
"I want to commend Dale Jr. for taking that step," Gossage said. "That shows a real commitment on his part, and I respect him for it. I learned they already had reduced prices on merchandise, just as we have reduced ticket prices and concession prices."
During the NASCAR media tour in Charlotte two weeks ago, Gossage and other speedway executives suggested some Cup drivers should do more to help promote the sport.
On Thursday, Earnhardt pointed out to my colleague, Ed Hinton, several examples of how he does more than his fair share, and said other drivers also go the extra mile. But he suggested speedways need to do more.
So Earnhardt and Gossage were accusing each other of not doing enough. But Gossage said they both have a new understanding now of their respective positions.
"Earnhardt and I realize everyone has to do more to get through this," Gossage said. "He's setting an example for others to follow and being a true leader in the sport."