The National Rifle Association, a touchstone for gun-rights advocates in the national debate about gun control, is putting its name on the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in April.
The NRA 500 will be the name of the race scheduled for April 13 at the 1.5-mile track, part of a one-year deal announced Monday by speedway president Eddie Gossage.
"This isn't a political platform. This is a sports marketing opportunity," Gossage said. "Demographically, it's a perfect match."
The NRA sponsored a NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Atlanta last September, the "NRA American Warrior 300."
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Gossage said this a one-year title sponsorship agreement with the NRA. He said that the track normally signs three-year deals with title sponsors, but that the NRA has options for the following seasons. He said the NRA approached the track last fall about a deal, but that it was not finalized until last week.
The announcement was made during Media Day at Texas Motor Speedway, where drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Travis Pastrana and James Buescher met with reporters to promote the race weekend.
In a video message, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said, "The NRA 500 is the latest announcement in the long history of a growing partnership between the NRA, Speedway Motorsports and the NASCAR community."
Gossage expressed no concern about any potential negative effects from associating itself with a controversial organization.
Texas Motor Speedway said the NRA has contributed more than $500,000 to the track's Texas Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. Speedway Motorsports, Inc. is the owner of TMS.
"I think it's great. I mean, the NRA is our core fan base," Stenhouse Jr. said. The NRA 500 is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 13, a Saturday prime-time start that makes it the season's first night race.