National Rifle Association image from the AP.
(USA TODAY) - The National Rifle Association will sponsor the April 13 Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, track president Eddie Gossage announced Monday during the 1.5-mile oval's annual preseason media day Monday.
The race, shown live by Fox, will be renamed from the Texas 500 to the NRA 500. It will be the first Saturday prime-time event of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) is among the largest sporting venues in the United States, with seating capacity in excess of 190,000.
It's the second time in a year that the NRA will be the title sponsor of a NASCAR event. Last September, the organization backed the NRA American Warriors 300, a Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Tracks independently sign companies to sponsorship entitlement, but NASCAR has final approval through its race sanctioning agreements. The NRA replaces Samsung Mobile, the sponsor since 2002.
"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," Gossage said in a statement. "We look forward to another successful partnership with the NRA for our April race week of activities."
NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre did not attend Monday's announcement at TMS but spoke in a video message.
"The NRA 500 is the latest announcement in the long history of a growing partnership between the NRA, Speedway Motorsports and the NASCAR community," LaPierre said. "NRA members and NASCAR fans love their country and everything that is good and right about America. We salute our flag ... volunteer in our churches and communities ... cherish our families ... and WE LOVE RACING! On April 13, we'll all come together at Texas Motor Speedway."
The NRA-sponsored Sprint Cup race will happen just two months after Michael Waltrip drove a Toyota in the Daytona 500 with a paint scheme supporting a victims' relief fund for the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The Newtown-emblazoned car of Swan Racing was unveiled by NASCAR chairman Brian France last month in a news conference at Daytona International Speedway.
It was a one-race arrangement for Swan Racing, which will have a new primary sponsor at Texas and doesn't have plans for another Newtown scheme.
At the unveiling of the Newtown-emblazoned car last month, France and his wife announced they will donate $50,000 to the Sandy Hook School Support Fund, which the NASCAR Foundation will match.
France said then he was excited to witness firsthand the NASCAR's community's embrace and support of the fundraising effort.
"Being in Newtown last week and delivering a moment of happiness to that community was unlike anything I've ever experienced," France said at the time. "Looking out at a room of smiling faces amidst the aftermath of a horrible tragedy was very powerful. It hit me that the NASCAR industry and our passionate fan base have an unbelievable opportunity to rally around this cause and make a huge difference for a community in need."