NRA sponsoring NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas

Texas Motor Speedway has acquired sponsorship from the National Rifle Association for its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race next month.

Track president Eddie Gossage announced on Monday that the April 13 race will be titled the NRA 500. The racetrack, which is owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc., and the gun-rights advocacy group signed a one-year agreement, which has a renewal option in it.

"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. "We look forward to another successful partnership with the NRA for our April race week of activities."

The NRA has had a business relationship with the NASCAR industry for more than a decade. The organization has supported SMI's Speedway Children's Charities and its fund-raising events since 2000. It has contributed more than $500,000 to the Texas Chapter of SCC at Texas Motor Speedway as well.

"The NRA 500 is the latest announcement in the long history of a growing partnership between the NRA, Speedway Motorsports (Inc.) and the NASCAR community," NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre said in a video message during a media event at the track. "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 is in the middle of a nationwide gun control debate following last December's mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed 20 children and six adults.

NASCAR released a statement shortly after the announcement of the sponsorship agreement.

"Race entitlement partnerships are agreements directly between the track and the sponsor," NASCAR's statement read. "NASCAR reserves the right to approve or disapprove those sponsorships. The race sponsor for Texas Motor Speedway's April event falls within the guidelines for approval for that event."

The NRA sponsored a 300-mile NASCAR Nationwide Series race last September at Atlanta Motor Speedway.