By Stephen Hawkins
The Associated Press
FORT WORTH, Texas — The National Rifle Association is taking its relationship with racing to a new level as the title sponsor of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Texas Motor Speedway announced Monday that its April 13 race, the first night race on the Cup schedule this season, will be known as the NRA 500. It is a one-year agreement with a renewal option.
TMS president Eddie Gossage said the NRA has been involved in racing for several years and a generous supporter of Speedway Children’s Charities, donating more than $500,000 to the charity’s Texas chapter since 2000.
“This race entitlement is just another extension of that business relationship,” Gossage said. “We look forward to another successful partnership with the NRA for our April race week.”
The deal comes at a time when the NRA is involved in a renewed debate on gun violence in the wake of the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
This is not the NRA’s first title sponsorship in NASCAR. The group sponsored a Nationwide race last September at Atlanta, which like Texas is owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president and CEO, expressed his excitement about the deal in a video message played during the track’s media day. Gossage said LaPierre wasn’t able to attend because of a scheduling conflict.
“The NRA 500 is the latest announcement in the long history of a growing partnership between the NRA, Speedway Motosports and the NASCAR community,” LaPierre said. “NRA members and NASCAR fans love their country and everything that is good and right about America. We salute our flag, volunteer in our churches and communities, cherish our families and we love racing. On April 13, we’ll all come together at Texas Motor Speedway.”
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