ESPN Sources: Two NASCAR Drivers Advised Not to Do Interviews in Media Center to Avoid Appearing With NRA Logo

FORT WORTH, TX – APRIL 12: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Hellmann’s Chevrolet, leads a group of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 12, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas. Credit: (Credit too long, see caption)


Did the AP, ESPN, and Fox refuse to mention the race’s actual name, the “NRA 500”? We investigate here.

ESPN said that sources confirmed to the outlet that two drivers have been advised by their PR people not to conduct interviews in the Texas Motor Speedway media center in order to avoid the NRA logo from appearing behind them.

The move is just the latest in media hysteria that has resulted from the NRA sponsoring Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race, the NRA 500.

Earlier in the week Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy (D) urged Fox not to air the race in an attempt to demonize the NRA, which has been critical of some of the gun control measures that have cropped up in the wake of the Newtown massacre.

“This celebration of guns is inappropriate in the immediate wake of the Newtown massacre,” Murphy said in a statement. “But most importantly, broadcasting this race, which will highlight the NRA and its radical agenda during this time, sends a harmful signal to the families affected by gun violence, as well as the millions of Americans who support sensible gun control measures and enjoy your sports programming.”

But Murphy isn’t the only one making controversial statements. NASCAR spokesman David Higdon is sharing that honor. On Friday, Higdon released a statement seemingly bowing to pressure from critics.

“The NRA’s sponsorship of the event at Texas Motor Speedway fit within existing parameters that NASCAR affords tracks in securing partnerships,” Higdon said. “However, this situation has made it clear that we need to take a closer look at our approval process moving forward, as current circumstances need to be factored in when making decisions.”

On Friday afternoon, Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage shot back.

“I would say about Mr. Higdon is, I think he’s new to the sport and doesn’t quite understand how it all works,” Gossage told local ESPN Dallas radio host Randy Galloway. “And he could have just as easily put out a quote that said C.Y.A. [cover your ass]. That’s what that is.”

“It’s a PR mistake to have made that statement,” he added. “They should have conferred with some other folks before they issued that.”

The race is one of the few night races during the NASCAR season, and will take place at 6:30 CT. TheBlaze will have two writers at the event, so stay tuned this weekend for continued coverage.

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