Gossage throws counterpunch at Junior

February, 6, 2009

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage has taken exception to some of the comments Dale Earnhardt Jr. made Thursday during media day at Daytona Beach, Fla.

Earnhardt told my colleague, Ed Hinton, that speedways should become more competitive on pricing.

Gossage has a similar request for Earnhardt.

"So we should cut prices" for tickets, concessions, tailored payment plans, Gossage said. "OK, we've done that. Now, since [Earnhardt] is so concerned about the public, will he do the same thing and slash the prices on his $45 Dale Jr. hooded sweatshirt or his $105 uniform jacket?"

This banter started during the NASCAR media tour at Charlotte two weeks ago when Gossage and other speedway executives suggested some Cup drivers should do more to help promote the sport.

On Thursday, Earnhardt pointed out examples of how he does more than his fair share, and said other drivers also go the extra mile.

Earnhardt said speedway promoters should do more to increase fan interest. But he was upset that TMS and other tracks have put up billboards about him in the past without checking with his people first.

"So we should promote more and better, but we should not use his name/photo, etc.?" Gossage asked. "He's the most popular driver in the sport."

Earnhardt also thought tracks should build hotels on the speedway property to give out-of-town fans an option at reasonable room rates.

"That would help 200 to 400 guests," Gossage said. "That'll make a big dent in the 180,000 people that come to the races."

Believe it or not, Gossage said he doesn't want to have a continuing debate with Earnhardt.

"We should all be in this together trying to work through this tough economy," Gossage said. "We're doing our part, doing exactly what Dale Jr. says we should be doing. And I've got drivers like Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick calling to see how they can be of help."

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer



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