This will be the ninth year for Texas Motor Speedway to host the eighth of the 10 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship, and it has treated the track well.
The Chase always seems to have plenty of drama left with three races remaining, and TMS president Eddie Gossage loves to play on that fact. With Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth tied for the Chase lead, and a couple other drivers less than 30 points back entering the AAA Texas 500 at 2 p.m. Sunday, Gossage is ready for another thriller within his friendly confines.
And TMS has big things on the horizon beyond this season, too — a couple things that have Gossage just as excited for next April as he is for this Sunday.
Q: You seem to really enjoy having the eighth race in the Chase at Texas. How has that position on the schedule worked out for you?
A: “It's a really good spot to be in. Obviously, you'd rather be the finale, and there's some energy within the sport that because this is the most successful major-market speedway in our sport, typically the biggest crowd in the Chase, the biggest purse in the Chase, that the finale ought to be here. There's been some discussion about that.
“But I would rather be eighth than ninth, because once you leave Texas, you pretty much know who's gonna win the Chase, or it's down to two guys. This time there's two guys, and you go back a little bit and the guys in third and fourth still have a shot. Typically coming into Texas, you've got multiple guys who've got a legitimate shot, but when you leave Texas, it's typically down to two.
“I like being eighth. I really do. I wish it wasn't on the opening of deer hunting season in Texas. That's a big thing. But I think it's a good spot.”
You held a few days of testing last week. Being so close to the race, was that some intense practice?
“Kevin Harvick said it looked like race day, because there were so many cars and crew members, and they were slinging shocks and springs and gears all around the garage. Everybody was just working, working, working. Preparation equals a big event. We've never had that many cars come to test, trying to find that one-hundredth of a second that makes them better than they would have been if they hadn't been here for the test.”
This is a track that people are pretty familiar with by this point. Was all the testing a matter of trying to get more familiar with the new car on this track?
“The technology changes so much from week to week. I don't think a lot of people fully get that, and I don't even understand it sufficiently. But what worked here in April doesn't necessarily work in November. There is so much that has been learned since then, that you've got to come back and see how it all works out.”