Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage is confident the Cowtown Pit Stop Challenge presented by Speedy Cash will become an annual prelude to the NTT IndyCar Series’ June visit into the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
Thursday’s inaugural event saw reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Simon Pagenaud and his Team Penske pit crew defeat rookie Felix Rosenqvist and his Chip Ganassi Racing crew on a straight-line course laid out on West 2nd Street in downtown, behind the Fort Worth Central Library. The event was staged to promote Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 on TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile quadoval.
Featuring four high-profile drivers and teams from two of the series’ powerhouse organizations, the event allowed a lunchtime crowd to get up-close to the participants and equipment competing in “America’s Original Nighttime IndyCar Race.” Pagenaud was joined by Penske teammate Josef Newgarden, while five-time/reigning series champion Scott Dixon also represented Ganassi.
“We’d like to make that into a really big thing,” Gossage said Saturday in the TMS infield media center. “It had a great air about it the other day, so one of the things offered up to us was maybe we ought to look at doing it in the evening, like a Wednesday evening because of a Thursday evening practice.
“We’ll sit down and talk to the powers-that-be in Fort Worth and see how they felt it went. We know it went great, from our perspective. I see no reason not to do it again and again and again as an annual affair.”
Gossage said downtown Fort Worth offers an ideal setting. “It’s not our only option but it’s our first choice,” Gossage said. “It’s not going to be a long event _ it’s good content for an hour. So to have it where there’s restaurants and bars and people walking is ideal.”
A key participant was three-time Indy 500 champion Johnny Rutherford of Fort Worth, who was tapped to signal the start of each heat race.
Visit Fort Worth provided promotional support to TMS. The Fort Worth Central Library served as the event’s backdrop while its Discovery Theater hosted the pre-event press conference.
Pagenaud planning a Corvette summer: Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud is looking forward to the conclusion of Saturday night’s race for a variety of reasons.
“I tell you what the last days...I don’t even know when was Indy. It’s a bit of a blur,” said Pagenaud, alluding to the two weeks since he won the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26. “We’re ready for the Texas race and then we have a weekend off.”
Pagenaud said he plans to spend time on his boat in North Carolina with fiancee Hailey McDermott, get back into a training routine and try to respond to the 2,000 messages he has received since winning the Indy 500. Finally, the Frenchman is awaiting delivery of the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette C7 Grand Sport Pace Car he earned as champion of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
“I can’t wait,” Pagenaud said. “You know I’m a car guy so, man, that thing is sweet. I love the burgundy (paint scheme). I sent a picture to my dad. He was a bit mad the next day because I woke him up in the middle of the night (in France), but we’re both big car guys. Adding that one to the collection is pretty sweet. Going to have to find a special place for it.”