Decals bearing the name of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist have been removed from a car competing in the Coke Zero 400 after Florida Republican officials complained.
Crist's name was going to appear on Josh Wise's No. 98 car, but the decals were removed Friday because of a complaint by the Republican Party of Florida alleging that the sponsorship violated campaign finance laws, according to the car's owner, former NASCAR driver Phil Parsons and Mike Curb, the car's entrant and associate sponsor.
Crist's name appeared in six spots on the car and the phrase "Charlie Crist for Florida" was featured across the hood of the car before the decals were removed. Curb said he had reached an agreement with Parsons to make his company Curb Records the car's primary sponsor instead.
The car is scheduled appear in Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. It will now bear decals promoting singer Lee Brice and honoring the 30th anniversary of Richard Petty's 200th win at the 1984 Firecracker 400 in Daytona Beach.
Parsons told The Daytona Beach News-Journal that he removed Crist's name after talking with Curb, who supports Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
"We just race, we try to keep the doors open and try to keep a competitive car on the race track," Parsons said.
Curb said Parsons will return the money he received for Crist's sponsorship.
The Republican Party of Florida complaint alleged that Crist's campaign had exceeded the $3,000 per person limit on in-kind donations. Crist campaign spokesman Brendan Gilfillan told the newspaper that the sponsorship had not violated election laws because it was made to the Charlie Crist for Florida political committee, which is not bound by that limit.
"Charlie has nothing but respect for Phil Parsons, both as a racer and a car owner, and we hope Josh has a good run on Saturday night," Gilfillan told the newspaper Friday.
Crist, a former Republican, is one of two Democrats hoping to challenge Scott in November.