Six-shooter celebration to remain

Updated: April 3, 2013, 12:48 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Firing six-shooters with blanks will remain a part of the Texas Motor Speedway Victory Lane celebration for the April 13 Sprint Cup race that will be sponsored by the National Rifle Association.

[+] EnlargeDenny Hamlin
John Harrelson/Getty ImagesAs is tradition for champions at Texas Motor Speedway, Denny Hamlin shoots blanks from revolvers after winning a Sprint Cup race in November 2010.

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage told ESPN.com last month he planned to meet with some Cup owners to see whether they or their sponsors opposed having the six-shooters as part of the celebration because of a potential conflict with the NRA's involvement.

If some were opposed, Gossage said he would consider altering the tradition.

He has since reconsidered.

"The more thought I gave to it, the more I realized that it is purely a celebration,'' Gossage said. "As you know, it's been going on for a long time and is not affiliated with the NRA.

"As a result, I decided we would go through our normal Victory Lane celebration, including the Cowboy Boot Trophy, the cowboy hat and the six-shooters. It is my decision, and I'm sure it will be fine.''

Last month, Gossage said he wanted to be sensitive to teams and sponsors that might be put in a potentially compromising position because of the race sponsor.

He also said he was sensitive to the fact that NASCAR partnered with Swan Racing to run a special Sandy Hook School Support Fund paint scheme on the No. 26 car driven by Michael Waltrip in the Daytona 500 to help raise money and awareness.

"Shooting those blanks in Victory Lane, that's all in good fun,'' he said soon after the NRA deal was announced. "But I want to make sure we don't step on somebody's toes and make somebody uncomfortable.

"It could be a sponsor on the driver's uniform or something like that just because this race has the very direct connection to the NRA.''

But Gossage, as he has insisted all along, said the NRA's sponsorship involvement is not a political statement by the track or the teams. So he is moving forward with the Victory Lane tradition.

"Any rational person clearly understands it is part of the celebration and is not any kind of political statement,'' Gossage said. "This is a race, not a rally for any cause. Period. End of story.''

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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