The NRA 500 will do the trick — create interest in a sport that needs it

Posted Monday, Mar. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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engel Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson or whoever wins the NASCAR race in Texas next month should be handed a gun that carries 150 rounds and can decapitate an elephant with a single shot.

If Texas Motor Speedway is going to embrace the NRA, then go all-in by handing the winner of the 2013 NRA 500 a gun that carries at least more than 10 rounds. Those little six-shooters the winner normally receives are far too PC for the victor of the NRA 500.

On Monday afternoon, TMS president and general manager Eddie Gossage made the long-understood relationship between NASCAR and the National Rifle Association a Kardashian marriage — the “NRA 500” will run on April 13.

Apparently, the “NRA 500” was a better choice than the “I Got Your Control Right Here Joe Biden 350.”

I don’t much care for guns, but I love the NRA 500.

This announcement is a business decision made by business people who recognize their fan base/membership. Eddie is a businessman who wants people to pay attention to his race, and pay for a ticket.

This type of open alliance is the type of affirmation and support the gun-loving NASCAR fan may want against the crazy, liberal, hippie media elite who make fun of them with snide comments stuck in their Marxist, anti-God, anti-gun rhetoric. This says, “We’re with you.”

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre was not at Monday’s news conference, but he did issue a statement that read, “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!”

(Solid effort by LaPierre to pander to his membership, but he did fail to mention the troops as well as Ronald Reagan.)

Whether the “NRA 500” is in good taste depends entirely where you fall on the gun-rights spectrum. Both Eddie and the NRA know full well which side of this debate their audience/membership falls.

Notice the NRA hasn’t tried to do any sponsorship deals with the NASCAR races in Fontana, Calif., or Watkins Glen, N.Y.

“Demographically, it’s a perfect fit,” Gossage said. “For us, it’s a sports marketing deal. It’s not a political platform.”

Gossage fielded a few questions about the possibility of protestors at his race.

“This is private property,” he said. “They’d have to buy a ticket or pay for parking.”

Not sure if there is a protestors’ ticket package.

I asked Gossage if he thought this announcement could generate attention about his race outside of the typical sports outlets.

“It could. It could,” he said.

Translation: “Please, God.”

Monday’s announcement is easily the most attention Gossage’s race has ever received about a sponsorship agreement. Unless a track announces a “Text and Drive 250,” the “NRA 500” at TMS is going to be the most talked-about race title ever.

As NASCAR and its tracks deal with its saturated product in an overcrowded sports calendar, it needs to generate interest. Since sports fans are now numb to massive amounts of augmented cleavage, maybe professing love to a magazine that can carry more than 10 rounds is the way to go.

This move may not be a political statement from Gossage, but if the Huffington Post, ESPN, CNN, Fox News, Saturday Night Live, Politico, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Letterman, Leno and/or Kimmel want to take their shots, so be it.

When those outlets make their political commentary, it’s highly likely they will be say the words: “Texas. NASCAR. April 13.” The only thing missing will be, “Get your tickets now.”

Gun control activists and the left will surely rip Gossage for this one-year deal that was proposed late last year. No one said a thing when the NRA sponsored the Atlanta race in September 2012.

In a post-Newtown world, the gun-control debate is as loud as it has been in generations, which means both the NRA and LaPierre are considered flammable. PR types may say this would be exactly the wrong time to form this alliance.

If you are Gosssage, all of this NRA heat makes it exactly the right time to join. Few are better equipped to deal with the headaches, the jokes and a few pesky potential protestors.

“The response I’ve seen so far on social media has been 99 percent positive,” Gossage said.

Who would have guessed that a sport with a direct lineage to moonshine runners would like guns?

“I think it’s great. I mean, the NRA is our core fan base,” said NASCAR driver Rickey Stenhouse Jr. on Monday. “We all have guns, and all us racers love to go out and shoot. It’s part of who we are.”

We already knew that. The NRA 500 is just a confirmation.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof

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Wednesday, April 23Full Scoreboard
Miami1Final | Box
Atlanta «3
Arizona «7Final | Box
Chicago Cubs5
San Francisco «12Final(11) | Box
Colorado10
Texas «3Final | Box
Oakland0
Houston3Final | Box
Seattle «5
Kansas City3Final | Box
Cleveland «5
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Pittsburgh2
LA Angels4Final | Box
Washington «5
Baltimore «10Final | Box
Toronto8
Chicago WSox «6Final | Box
Detroit4
NY Yankees1Final | Box
Boston «5
St. Louis2Final | Box
NY Mets «3
Minnesota «6Final(12) | Box
Tampa Bay4
San Diego2Final | Box
Milwaukee «5
Philadelphia2Final | Box
Los Angeles «5
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Wednesday, April 23Full Scoreboard
Charlotte97Final | Box
Miami «101
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Miami leads series, 2-0.
Dallas «113Final | Box
San Antonio92
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Series tied, 1-1.
Portland «112Final | Box
Houston105
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Portland leads series, 2-0.
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Pittsburgh3Final(OT) | Box
Columbus «4
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Anaheim2Final | Box
Dallas «4
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Four. Series tied, 2-2.
St. Louis3Final(OT) | Box
Chicago «4
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Four. Series tied, 2-2.
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