Getty Images

Circuit of the Americas wants NASCAR, Texas Motor Speedway says no way

20 Comments

Texas Motor Speedway has what in-state rival Circuit of the Americas wants: NASCAR.

Separated by a few hours – TMS in Fort Worth and COTA in Austin – and different racing platforms (1.5-mile oval vs. 3.4-mile road course), the two tracks have peacefully coexisted since COTA opened in 2012.

But that could be changing. COTA Chairman Bobby Epstein is interested in bringing NASCAR racing to his track.

“I’ve had contact with NASCAR officials, and we’ve heard from their fans and drivers,” Epstein said in a recent story in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper. “Everyone seems to want to be here, so I see no reason why it couldn’t come together.

“It’s something fans are asking for in droves. We hear it, and I’m assuming (NASCAR) hears it, too. They are continuing to tweak their product, looking for new ideas. This would be something different, a change of pace.

“I’d be pretty optimistic it could happen because NASCAR said they want more road courses, more non-ovals. Now that they’ve said that, this is the best one in the country. So if enough fans want them here, I think they’ll be here one day.”

Epstein’s interest in NASCAR is not exactly sitting well with his counterpart at TMS, track president Eddie Gossage, particularly since this is the first that Gossage has heard of COTA reportedly having some form of discussions with NASCAR.

“Anyone can talk to a NASCAR official,” Gossage told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper. “What NASCAR official? What’d they say? That doesn’t mean a thing. We’re all bound by contracts.”

Texas Motor Speedway has a 20-year legacy of hosting NASCAR events on its 1.5-mile track, which is being repaved before the first of its two annual NASCAR race weekends in early April.

Texas Motor Speedway also hosts a Verizon IndyCar Series race each season.

Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

COTA, which opened in 2012, is entering its fifth full season of racing on its 3.4-mile Gran Prix-style road course. It holds a variety of events, particularly sports car racing.

But its biggest events are the Formula One Grand Prix on Oct. 20-22 and MotoGP on April 21-23.

The F1 race is two weeks before Texas Motor Speedway’s second NASCAR race weekend of the season (also part of the playoffs), and the MotoGP race is two weeks after TMS’s first NASCAR race weekend of 2017.

“But we’re old pros,” Gossage told the Star-Telegram. “This is my 38th season in major-league racing. Both TMS and (parent company Speedway Motorsports Inc.) have a tremendous amount of knowledge and talent and ability. They are trying to find their way in a really complicated and nuanced business. It’s all a new challenge for them.”

With new series sponsor Monster Energy, NASCAR is looking at ways to create new interest and attract new fans. One area that has been looked at is adding more road course races to the schedule (NASCAR has two road course races each year, at Sonoma, California, and Watkins Glen, New York).

That prospect interests Epstein, but also irritates Gossage, who told the Star-Telegram that TMS is in the second year of a five-year contract with NASCAR and has added geographic protection from the sanctioning body that other races will not be held in close proximity to TMS.

“I don’t blame (COTA) for wanting NASCAR races, it’s just that they’re 20 years too late,” Gossage told the Star-Telegram.

Neither COTA nor NASCAR officials responded to request for comment from the Star-Telegram.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR America: Parker Kligerman takes to simulator to show Xfinity changes at Indy (video)

Leave a comment

While Saturday will mark the sixth straight year the NASCAR Xfinity Series will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, there will be significant changes. 

Among the changes: the use of restrictor plates, as well as adding aero ducts to aid cars with the draft.

On Tbursday’s edition of NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman took a spin around the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway — on the NBCSN iRacing Simulator, that is — to show how some of those changes will impact the cars and potentially the race.

Check it out in the video above.

Friday’s NASCAR schedule at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Friday will be somewhat of an easy, relaxing day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Cars will only take to the track twice in the afternoon — both being Xfinity Series practice sessions, which will be on the NBC Sports App.

IMS will host the NASCAR Cup Fan Fest from 4:30 – 8 p.m. ET, followed by the NASCAR Cup hauler parade that will see transporters enter the Speedway around 9 p.m. ET.

Here’s the rest of Friday’s schedule (all times Eastern):

FRIDAY, JULY 21

9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

1 – 1:55 p.m. – First Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

3 – 3:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)

NASCAR America: Pit crew members share their hidden talents

Leave a comment

What does a sky diver and Olympic-caliber swimmer have in common?

They make their living on NASCAR’s pit road, that’s what.

Check out two of this week’s pit crew all-star nominees, as seen on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

NASCAR America: Xfinity drivers react to restrictor plates at Indy (video)

Leave a comment

On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, several of the stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series tried to explain in three words what to expect with the use of restrictor plates in this Saturday’s Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

See what they said and what they’re thinking about Saturday’s race in the video above.