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.”