Controversy and politics surround NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway

 Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson gives the invocation prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016
Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson gives the invocation prior to the Duck Commander 500 praying no democrat wins the White House
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It was bad enough that NASCAR fans had to sit through a nearly two hour rain delay Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. Those fans in attendance and watching on National television were also forced to watch as a controversial family stole the spotlight.

The Robertson family whose company sponsored the "Duck Commander 500" were very visible starting with Phil Robertson star of the reality show "Duck Dynasty" who performed the traditional pre-race invocation. NASCAR is the only major sport that prays prior to its event, but normally the prayer isn't used to advance any sort of agenda. That wasn't the case Saturday night.

"Alright Texas, we got here via Bibles and guns." Robertson said. "I'm fixing to pray to the one who made that possible. Father thank you for founding our nation. I pray father that we don't forget who brought us. You. Our faith in the blood of Jesus and his resurrection. Help us father to get back to that. Help us dear God understand that the men and women on my right, the U.S. military. On my right and on my left. Our faith in you and the U.S. military is the reason we're still here."

He ended the prayer by saying "I pray Father that we put a Jesus man in the White House. Help us do that and help us all to repent to do what's right to love you more and to love each other. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen."

The backlash on social media was immediate as people speculated that Robertson, who was previously suspended from "Duck Dynasty" regarding comments he made about homosexuality to GQ , was referring to a Republican such as Donald Trump for president.

This isn't the first time Texas Motor Speedway has been at the center of a controversy with its race sponsors. The Robertson's family business began sponsoring the spring Texas race in 2014 after the National Rifle Association had sponsored the race. The NRA was heavily criticized and NASCAR responded with new guidelines that govern and require approval for race naming rights sold by racetracks calling it "The NRA Rule."

Under the new policy adopted six months after the NRA race: "NASCAR reserves the right to approve or disapprove any advertising, sponsorship or similar agreement in connection with the event."

The 2014 sanction agreement also stated that tracks must submit for approval all race entitlement sponsors:

"(NASCAR) will disapprove a prospective entitlement sponsor only if such prospective entitlement sponsor's brand has been tarnished by, controversy, crisis or circumstance such that its association with the event would damage the NASCAR brand or the image of the sport or … it would damage the (broadcasting) network's ability to sell advertising."

For its part, Fox Sports downplayed the name instead opting to call the race "The NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Texas Motor Speedway sponsored by KFC".

However, the biggest question is the oversight by NASCAR who allowed a controversial figure, known for intolerant comments, to use the NASCAR stage to advance a political agenda. NASCAR has worked tirelessly on its diversity efforts in order to expand its fan base. Those efforts seemed to take a hit earlier in the season with NASCAR CEO Brian France's personal presidential endorsement of Donald Trump. Saturday nights ‘prayer' by Robertson certainly didn't help. For the record another member of the family, Will, did a rendition of the National Anthem that had fans cringing.

All in all it seems that anyone who can write a big enough check can do just about anything that want at Texas Motor Speedway. They can make it their personal playground in the National spotlight and seemingly advance whatever agenda they want.

Perhaps it's time for Texas Motor Speedway to think about who they let write the checks. And for NASCAR to step up and enforce the rules they themselves wrote.

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