NASCAR may look harder at sponsorship process

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NASCAR appears open to applying more scrutiny to potential sponsors as the Sprint Cup Series prepares to run tomorrow night at Texas Motor Speedway in a race backed by the National Rifle Association.

While NASCAR has chosen to take no position on gun rights, spokesman David Higdon acknowledged on Friday that a closer look at sponsorship approval is needed.

“The NRA’s sponsorship of the event at Texas Motor Speedway fit within existing parameters that NASCAR affords tracks in securing partnerships,” Higdon said according to the Associated Press. “However, this situation has made it clear that we need to take a closer look at our approval process moving forward, as current circumstances need to be factored in when making decisions.”

Before signing on as a sponsor of tomorrow’s 500-mile race at TMS — dubbed the “NRA 500” — the organization sponsored the Nationwide Series’ “NRA American Warrior 300” last September at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

But with American lawmakers currently in the midst of a debate over gun rights following last December’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, tomorrow’s event has drawn added attention and criticism. One of those critics, Sen. Chris Murphy (D – Conn.), has gone as far as writing a letter to News Corporation CEO Rupert Murdoch that asks him not to air the race on his Fox network.

But TMS president/general manager Eddie Gossage said on Thursday that he himself hasn’t seen “even a tiny uproar” about his track’s pact with the NRA.

“As far as this senator, I appreciate personally a publicity effort,” Gossage said according to The Dallas Morning News’ Gerry Fraley. “That’s two times [Murphy] has bit at this apple and gotten himself some publicity both times.”

IndyCar race weekend doubleheader schedule at IMS road course

IndyCar weekend schedule Indianapolis
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The NTT IndyCar Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third time this season but with a weekend schedule that will put the action in front of fans for the first time in 2020.

The track’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course will play host to IndyCar and sports cars series over four days. The action will begin Thursday with practice and concluding with an eight-hour race Sunday featuring the Intercontinental GT Challenge and GT World Challenge America.

The NTT IndyCar Series will hold a Friday-Saturday race doubleheader called the Harvest GP presented by GMR.

ENTRY LISTS: Who’s racing IndyCar at IMS this weekend

The name is a nod to the Harvest Classic, which was held Sept. 9, 1916 to help the track stay solvent during World War I. The event had three races of 20, 50 and 100 miles (all won by Johnny Aitken) that was the only racing held outside May at IMS from 1911-93.

A limited crowd of 10,000 will be allowed each day this weekend, and those fans will be the first to experience new video boards, concession stands, restrooms and 5G wireless connectivity.

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule for Indianapolis Motor Speedway Harvest GP:

(All times are Eastern)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Thursday, Oct. 1

Noon — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America test session
2:25 p.m. — IndyCar practice (NBC Sports Gold)
6:20 p.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 1 (NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Friday, Oct. 2

10:20 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
1:40 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
3:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 (USA Network, NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Saturday, Oct. 3

10:20 a.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC Sports Gold)
12:10 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America qualifying
2:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC, NBC Sports Gold)
5:30 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America pole shootout

IndyCar weekend schedule: Sunday, Oct. 4

10 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America race