National Rifle Association Signs Deal to Sponsor a NASCAR Sprint Cup Race

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2013

AVONDALE, AZ - MARCH 03:  Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Subway Ford, celebrates with the checkered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on March 3, 2013 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The National Rifle Association (NRA) reached an agreement with Texas Motor Speedway to sponsor NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series race on April 13, reports Tripp Mickle of the Sports Business Journal.

It's the first time the NRA has sponsored a race in the top series.

David Newton of ESPN.com provided further details about the sponsorship deal, which reportedly was in the works during the buildup to the Daytona 500.

The situation worried officials since NASCAR was working to raise support for the Newtown, Conn., families.

The deal comes on the heels of NASCAR announcement last month in Daytona Beach about its efforts to raise funds and awareness for the 20 children and six adults killed as part of a mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

NASCAR partnered with Swan Racing to put a Sandy Hook School Support Fund paint scheme on the No. 26 car driven by Michael Waltrip in the Daytona 500.

Sources told ESPN.com there were concerns during Speedweeks that the TMS deal might become public and impact NASCAR's efforts for Newtown.

It's not the first time the NRA has sponsored a NASCAR race. The association was the title sponsor for the NRA American Warrior 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway last September, but that was for the second-tier Nationwide Series. 

Bruton Smith, who is the chairman of the group that owns Texas Motor Speedway, didn't feel the agreement would be an issue and called the NRA a "great sponsor" (via ESPN.com):

It's not a touchy issue at all. We're at Texas. I guess if you want to find any state in the United States that is pro guns, Texas would be it. You have more hunters per capita in Texas than any place I know.

It's important to note that sponsorship agreements are made between companies and the track where the selected race will be taking place. So, the deal for the April 13 race, which will be called the NRA 500, is between the NRA and the Texas Motor Speedway, not NASCAR itself.

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The ESPN report states it wasn't clear whether NASCAR was consulted in this situation given the spotlight on the NRA in recent months, but Smith said that isn't usually standard operating procedure for these types of situations.

Also, the Newtown paint scheme featured on Michael Waltrip's car during the Daytona 500 isn't scheduled to be used any more this season, according to Nate Ryan of USA Today. It was a one-race special arrangement.

An official announcement of the sponsorship deal is expected on Monday.

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