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With more than six weeks to go, Eddie Gossage is hoping for business as usual.

But the president of Texas Motor Speedway is now also holding out hope for ‘Plan B’ in order to hold the Genesys 600 IndyCar race June 6 – a plan that got a major show of support Monday from the state’s governor.

Gossage has been adamant, despite   concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, that his race would continue to be preserved as-is – fans included. He sees his position as an economic and pragmatic one.

The two series are far different in their economic realities. Race promoters receive nearly two-thirds of the TV rights package for holding a NASCAR race. That revenue stream disappears when IndyCar comes to town.

“So without any revenue to support having to pay the purse sanctioning fee of an IndyCar race (without fans), there’s no way to make that work,” Gossage told The Indianapolis Star. “In a perfect world, everything goes back to normal (and there are fans). And if it doesn’t, our hope would be that NASCAR would look and see, ‘Well, Texas has that week of June 5 and 6 already set aside for the (NASCAR trucks series) and IndyCar; let’s plug in Cup and maybe Xfinity as well. We could easily run (all four) in one weekend.

“If you do it without any fans, you already have in place the key staff: emergency, medical, fire, infield hospital doctors and nurses, TV networks, radio networks and on and on. You have that prepared, and then there’s a certain economy of all that that would allow us to run without fans for an IndyCar race.”

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The details are far more complicated than the wish may sound on paper — starting with a NASCAR race already scheduled for Michigan that weekend — but it received its first major blessings in the past 24 hours.

Fans, a doubleheader or nothing

Sunday night, an average of more than six million Americans sat around their TVs for two hours watching what felt like the closest thing to appointment live-sports TV in more than a month. The first two episodes of ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary, ‘The Last Dance’, took a stranglehold on sports fans Sunday and still had droves talking and reacting Monday.

That’s what Gossage hopes Texas Motor Speedway can bring to the sports world – and what he believes motor sports are uniquely designed to be able to deliver in the midst of a pandemic. Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area are primed to be center stage, he explained.

“It would be great for the morale of the American public and to tell the rest of the world that some of the stories you’ve heard about COVID-19 out of the U.S., that’s not necessarily the case here in Texas,” Gossage said. “We’re getting back into the swing of things, and this would be one example of business returning to as-usual, to normal.”

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In terms of other states, Texas ranks 16th in the country in deaths due to COVID-19, according to the latest information, but the country’s second-largest state by population sits 39th in deaths per one million residents. Gossage pointed out that, as some cities and counties around the country brace to run out of hospital beds to deal with patients suffering from COVID-19 or other sicknesses, the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area’s 12,998 hospital beds are only just over 60% full, according to data provided by the state.

And as states such as Georgia set to open up major portions of their economic sectors as early as this week, Gossage believes Texas and others will soon be ready to follow suit. Monday,  Texas politicians voiced public signs of support – at least in terms of auto racing.

On Twitter, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a clear path for NASCAR, specifically, to return to TMS to make up for the stock car race originally planned for late March “very soon,” stating that NASCAR is “working to return to Texas Motor Speedway very soon. I hope to announce the exciting details in the near future. To prevent (the) spread of COVID-19, it will be without fans. But they will put on a great show for fans.”

Other state representatives, as well as Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, echoed the same sentiments on Twitter.

As NASCAR continues its attempt to hold all 36 races from its originally planned schedule, there remain no open weekends until late July (including plans for June 7 currently at Michigan International Speedway). Outside of a mid-week NASCAR race, it would appear a race at TMS “very soon” would require a series schedule shuffle.

The addition of NASCAR to the slate would, according to Abbott’s plans which Gossage confirmed, eliminate the possibility of fans attending any of the four races.

“Trust me, this ‘no fans’ concept is counter-intuitive to me as a promoter,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing I never thought in a million years we’d be talking about.”

But against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, it paints a much simpler picture, if not as quite as big an economic boost.

“It’s easy to do for TV. You don’t have to worry about fans or traffic. When you’re talking about having more than one event, you’d have ingress and egress, food and beverage, finding people to staff you for ticket sellers and ticket stubbers, concession stands.”

Holding the IndyCar race June 6, however, would require the first IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader or having fans in attendance. Otherwise, IndyCar won’t return to north Texas until 2021.

“You’d be guaranteeing huge losses for the track,” Gossage said of running IndyCar solo without fans. “We’re also part of the ecosystem that is auto racing, and we want to support the sport in general, but we also want to be supported. We’re part of that ecosystem that has to eat too.”

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Gossage mentioned that he spoke with IndyCar series owner Roger Penske on Sunday night, and though the pair didn’t discuss any sort of bailout plan for TMS to host IndyCar alone and fan-free – “It doesn’t mean we won’t some day,” Gossage said – the two began hashing out what IndyCar’s side of a whirlwind weekend would look like in a potential historic partnership with NASCAR ahead of the already scheduled doubleheader July 4 weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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‘We’re uniquely positioned’

The plan, Gossage said, would involve loads of temperature checks, private travel and one long, long day.

To start, all IndyCar drivers, crew members and team officials who wouldn’t travel with their haulers would – along with series officials – undergo a temperature check before jumping on a thoroughly sanitized charter plane for Fort Worth’s Alliance Airport, a large non-commercial airport just five miles down the highway.

Freshly scrubbed buses would await all passengers, who would be taken straight to TMS, where they, along with anyone gaining entrance to the track, would have their temperatures taken to monitor any side-effects hinting at the early signs of COVID-19. Though such checks wouldn’t account for those who could be asymptomatic, Gossage assured that “it’s as safe as you could make it” without the creation of a reliable mass-produced test with results within minutes.

“And there’s also a current shortage of tests, so taking any would be very sensitive to use them for just a race versus the general public,” he said.

From there, drivers would receive a couple more medical check-ins throughout the day while they would practice, qualify and race in a matter of hours.

Then, they would board buses and get on a plane that will have been sanitized since their last trip.

“Everyone would have to practice social distancing, but the neat thing about our sport is you don’t have body-on-body contact,” he said. “I don’t know how you’d deal with these issues if you’re football, basketball, hockey or even baseball.

“But we’re uniquely positioned with golf, tennis and horse racing to do this.”

What’s next

Life for Gossage is now a waiting game. Monday, North Carolina speaker of their House of Representatives Roy Cooper published a letter sent on his behalf to the state’s Gov. Roy Moore pleading to allow NASCAR’s Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to run as scheduled the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend without fans in attendance. But for the time being, Moore has not lifted restrictions that would allow such a race to be held, nor has he permitted the bulk of NASCAR race teams that are housed in the state to resume in-shop business.

Gossage believes that Charlotte will host the first motor sports event of the year since NASCAR’s race at Phoenix on March 8, but he’s ready to go, no matter what that weekend may look like come the first couple days of June.

The stress, he said, isn’t in what’s to come, but what’s not coming presently.

“It’s the stress of inactivity,” he said. “Not being in business, and we know that’s not unique to us because we know every business has been affected in some way, and some much bigger than others. But the sport of auto racing, we’ve got to get back to running events, regardless of the series, because we’ve got to start the dominoes.

“For now, though, there’s no need to rush, just take our time and see. That’s what we’ll do – absent NASCAR – but we’ll hope that’s what happens. Because every day, our chances grow a little slimmer, but we’ve got our fingers crossed. Today, the Governor said on the call, ‘We’re good now. In two weeks, we’re going to be great, and by the first of June, we’re going to be ready.’”

Email IndyStar motor sports reporter Nathan Brown at nlbrown@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter: @By_NathanBrown.

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