The Connecticut senator who wrote to NASCAR questioning the NRA’s sponsorship of the Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway is asking Fox not to televise the race.TMS president Eddie Gossage and track owner Bruton Smith laughed off the idea Thursday as presented by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy.“I think Rupert Murdoch will see it for what it is,” Gossage said, referring to the owner of the television network. “I appreciate, personally, a publicity effort — I really do. That’s two times he’s bit at this apple and gotten himself some publicity both times.”The NRA 500 will be televised as scheduled. The Associated Press reported that Fox officials declined comment.Murphy had also expressed concern about the firing of “six-shooters” in Victory Lane, a TMS tradition.Again, Gossage played it coy.“I think the fact that they’re not loaded is a fairly safe thing,” he said.Smith joked that he did not know who Murphy was and would not vote for him.Change of heartTrack owner Bruton Smith said he has never been bothered by not being nominated for the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, but that he knows it is important to many people.“I just would not let it bother me one way or the other,” Smith said. “I don’t think I was upset about it. Some of it, I thought, was rather comical. So I just smiled and went ahead and continued to work with all of the things that I have to do.”Smith is owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns and operates Texas Motor Speedway and seven other NASCAR tracks.He told an industry magazine in an interview a few weeks ago that he wouldn’t care if he was nominated or not. But apparently he has had a change of heart.“I have about 15,000 employees. I started hearing from them and a lot of friends, and I found out that that meant so much to them,” Smith said. “My family chimed in. I’m delighted my name has come up. That’s wonderful. If I’m inducted at a later time, I’ll do whatever I can to grow the facility in Charlotte and help grow the sport.”No hard feelingsDale Earnhardt Jr. doesn’t blame Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson for putting him another lap down after a caution Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.Earnhardt said Johnson, who was leading the Sprint Cup race and went on to win, has a right to protect his position.“I would have done the same thing,” Earnhardt said Thursday at TMS. “I’ve got to think about my team, my car, what I’m trying to do. I don’t think he did it out of spite or anything like that. He’s just driving his race. We shouldn’t be back there in the first place, been in that position to be run over.”Earnhardt, with two flat tires, said Johnson no doubt saw that and couldn’t have waited for him even if he wanted to.“Jimmie couldn’t slow down. You slow down, the guy behind you has the right to take your position,” Earnhardt said. “Jimmie’s leading the race. He couldn’t take that chance.”Busch hopefulKurt Busch made a good impression for Furniture Row Racing last year at TMS.He delivered an eighth-place finish, his first top-10 for what was his new team at the time. He had joined the team three weeks before that, and he finished the season with two more top-10s.So he’s looking for another boost of momentum Saturday night in the NRA 500.“Though we don’t have the same car as we did at our last stop in Texas, we do have good data,” he said. “I am looking forward to another strong run there in our Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet.”Busch had momentum until last week, when he finished 37th at Martinsville. He had been fifth at Fontana two weeks earlier and fourth at Bristol before that.“Our problem so far is that we’re making this more difficult than what it should be,” he said. “We haven’t had a clean race this year due to a combination of bad breaks, mechanical issues and mistakes. We managed to work through some of those problems in Bristol and California, where we had strong finishes, but it caught up to us in Martinsville.”Familiar feelingDanica Patrick had zero prior experience at Martinsville last week.That’s not the case this week at TMS.Between IndyCar and NASCAR, the 30-year-old Patrick has made 13 starts at TMS, more than any other track she will run on this year. She made eight starts in the IndyCar Series, four in Nationwide and one in Sprint Cup.She said the track has a familiar feel, not just because she has run it a lot.“I think, more than anything with Texas, it’s the fact it’s a really high-banked, fast track, and those are the kind of tracks I’ve liked the most,” she said. “I feel that load in the corner, and you’re able to carry so much speed through there because of that banking. I feel like it translates more to a feeling I was familiar with from Indy cars.”No. 300Kyle Busch is making his 300th start in a NASCAR touring series Friday night.He likes the sound of that, but he also notes that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is coming up on 600 starts.“To be in 300 races, I think that’s pretty cool, and it just shows that I’ve been here for a while,” he said. “Yet there are still a lot more races to run and a lot more time for me to be here. ... Hopefully we can be talking about 600 one day.”Busch, who once won five straight Nationwide races at TMS, has won three of the five Nationwide races run this season.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @calexmendez