FORT WORTH, Texas -- The National Rifle Association, a touchstone for gun-rights advocates in a national debate about gun control after the Sandy Hook shootings, 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.
"The NRA has been involved in the sport for several years and a partner of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., for many years in various aspects, and this race entitlement is just another extension of that business relationship. We look forward to another successful partnership with the NRA for our April race week of activities," Gossage said in a news release.
The news release did not mention the December shootings at Newtown, Conn., where 26 students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary were killed by a shooter with an assault rifle. Last week at the Daytona 500, driver Michael Waltrip drove a car sponsored by the Sandy Hook School Support Fund.
The NRA sponsored a NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Atlanta last September, the "NRA American Warrior 300."
The latest announcement was made at 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."
Texas Motor Speedway said the NRA has contributed more than $500,000 to the track's Texas Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. Speedway Motorsporsts, Inc. is the owner of TMS.
The TMS spring Sprint Cup race had been sponsored by Samsung Mobile 500.
The NRA 500 is scheduled for 7 p.m. CDT on April 13, a Saturday prime time start that makes it the season's first night race.
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