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'NRA 500' NASCAR race ignites sponsorship controversy

Carl Edwards drives the #99 Fastenal Ford during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Gen-6 Testing at Texas Motor Speedway on April 11, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas.

This weekend, Texas Motor Speedway will host a NASCAR race -- and the name of the race is causing a bit of controversy. It's called the NRA 500, as in National Rifle Association.

The last time the NRA sponsored a NASCAR race was in September, before the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting that brought the NRA to the forefront of the debate on gun control.

“I’m certain that somewhere down the line someone has to say let’s look at a particular sponsor and see whether it is good for the sport” says Jon Ackley, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who teaches a class called "The Business of NASCAR."

He says that these types of sponsorships are made between the owner of the race track, in this case Texas Motor Speedway, and the sponsor, but ultimately NASCAR has to approve the deal.

“But just because there may be people who don’t approve of something it doesn’t mean that it is detrimental to the overall sport,” says Ackley.

Ackley doesn’t think the sponsorship will cost NASCAR any fans. Sponsors typically pay upwards of $1 million to put their name on a race. NASCAR didn’t block the NRA deal, but said it would take a closer look at the sponsorship approval process in the future.

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.
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