Did NASCAR endorse Donald Trump?

With endorsements from its CEO and a some drivers, Trump tweets that NASCAR itself has endorsed him.
By Will Creighton  |  March 1, 2016 at 4:46 PM
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With Super Tuesday a day away away, Donald Trump got a series of endorsements Monday from NASCAR's CEO plus a handful of current and former drivers.

Trump took to his prolific Twitter account bright and early Tuesday to crow about the support.

Why does it matter?
Thousands of Americans attend NASCAR races live -- 140,000 were at the Daytona 500 in 2012, the last year statistics were released – and millions watch the races on TV. Attendance and viewership appear on the decline, but NASCAR remains one of America's largest spectator sports -- and NASCAR holds big races in 11 Super Tuesday states.

So it's not surprising Trump is pleased with the support. But did he take it too far?

The evidence:

This is Brian France. He's NASCAR's chairman and CEO. Brian's grandfather, Bill France Sr., founded NASCAR back in 1948 and it's still a closely held family operation.

File Photo by Nell Redmond/UPI
At a Valdosta, Ga., Trump rally Monday night, France and Co. got behind Trump.

Before he was for Trump, France was for Carly Fiorina, donating $2,700 to her campaign in September. But Fiorina is out of the race.

File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

On stage with France at the rally were the NASCAR drivers, led by former superstar Bill Elliott, a two-time Daytona 500 champion. Over the span of his career, Elliott racked up NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award 16 times, consistently beating out legends like Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

File Photo by Michael Bush/UPI
His son Chase Elliott also was on stage.
File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI
David Ragan was there.
File Photo by Michael Bush/UPI
As was Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman.
File Photo by Martin Fried/UPI

But the announcement created the growing impression that NASCAR itself was endorsing the candidate.

So a major sponsor fired back ...
Marcus Lemonis is CEO of Camping World – NASCAR truck race series sponsor, and the star of CNBC's "The Profit." He's no fan of Donald Trump. After Trump's controversial statements about immigration at the start of his presidential bid in 2015, Lemonis demanded in a letter to France that NASCAR move a Camping World Truck Series event out of a Trump hotel in Florida. An hour after Lemonis delivered the letter to the media, NASCAR announced the event would leave Trump's resort.

Monday night after the Trump rally, Lemonis didn't mince words on his Twitter account.

NASCAR spokesman David Higdon tried to create some political distance saying this was a "Private personal decision by Brian [France]."

And Donald Trump's Twitter feed has returned to other issues.
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