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

By Mac Engel, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Published: March 5, 2013

Not sure if there is a protesters' 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 Gossage, 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 protesters.

“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.

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