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NASCAR owners aren’t just Mitt Romney’s friends, they’re donors too

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesn’t just have friends who are NASCAR team owners—he has donors.

Romney, who is enduring ribbing from Democrats over remarks on befriending wealthy race team owners, has collected campaign contributions from at least four supporters with financial interests in the sport, according to an analysis from the Public Campaign Action Fund.

Rainier Ehrhardt

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney greets supporters as he walks through the garage area before the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup series auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Sunday.

The donors include Richard Childress, the owner of Richard Childress Racing, which hosted Romney during his Sunday visit to the Daytona 500. Childress has given the maximum donation of $2,500 to Romney’s primary campaign, records show.

Other NASCAR-linked donations include $1,000 from Walter Czarnecki, the executive vice president of the parent company of Penske Racing; $500 from JD Gibbs, the president of Joe Gibbs Racing; and $250 from Andrew Murstein of Medallion Financial, which has part-ownership in Richard Petty Motorsports, records show.

Romney made the pilgrimage to Daytona on Sunday in an attempt to connect with working-class voters and portray himself as a fan of the U.S. auto industry.

Terry Renna

AP

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, right, walks with driver Brian Vickers, left, as they pass a race car sponsored by Romney's rival Rick Santorum before the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup series auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Sunday.

One reporter asked him if he followed racing.

“Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans, but I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners,” Romney answered.

Romney also told a group of fans wearing plastic ponchos: “I like those fancy raincoats you bought. Really sprung for the big bucks.”

Democrats pounced on his remarks, saying they underscored his remoteness from everyday people.

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