Trump ‘proud of NASCAR’ for protest-free New Hampshire race
President Donald Trump lauded NASCAR on Monday because no drivers, crew or team members protested during the national anthem before a weekend race at New Hampshire Motorspeedway.
“So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag - they said it loud and clear!” Trump tweeted Monday.
The comments came one day after dozens of NFL players took a knee or otherwise protested during anthems across the country in the wake of Trump suggesting teams could fire them for the gesture, which began last year as a way to raise the focus on social injustice.
Several NASCAR team owners and executives said Sunday they wouldn’t want anyone in their organizations to protest. Richard Childress, who was Dale Earnhardt’s longtime team owner, said of protesting: “It’ll get you a ride on a Greyhound bus.”
Childress said he told his team that “anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.”
Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty’s sentiments took it a step further, saying: “Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ‘em where they’re at? The United States.”
When asked if a protester at Richard Petty Motorsports would be fired, he said, “You’re right.”
RPM team owner Andrew Murstein later told ESPN he “wouldn’t fire someone for expressing their feelings.”
“I would sit down with them and say it’s the wrong thing to do that and many people including myself, view it as an affront to our great country,” he said. “Yes, there are problems here, but they are nothing close to the problems in North Korea and other parts of the world. We must come together as Americans and respect everyone and everything, especially our flag which is still the symbol of the United States, the greatest country in the world.”
NASCAR chairman Brian France created a firestorm in the sport when he endorsed Trump last year. France’s efforts to quell criticism over what he insisted was a “personal and private” decision were complicated by Trump’s continued mentioning of how he received “NASCAR’s endorsement.”
A few hours after Trump’s tweet, NASCAR issued a statement noting that respect for the national anthem “has always been a hallmark of our pre-race events.”
“Thanks to the sacrifices of many, we live in a country of unparalleled freedoms and countless liberties, including the right to peacefully express one’s opinion,” the statement said.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s most popular driver who will retire at the end of the season, tweeted Monday in support of peaceful protest.
“All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests. Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK,” he wrote.
Another team owner, Chip Ganassi, said he supports Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s comments. Tomlin said before the Steelers played on Sunday that players would remain in the locker room and that “we’re not going to let divisive times or divisive individuals affect our agenda.”
Chicago Bears players link arms during the national anthem before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Soldier Field.(Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)
Chicago Bears players line up linking arms during the national anthem before facing the Pittsburgh Steelers.(Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva is the sole member of the team to stand in the open for the national anthem while his teammates remained in the tunnel before the game against the Chicago Bears.(Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo and other players remain in the tunnel for the national anthem before the game against the Chicago Bears.(Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
Members of the Dallas Cowboys link arms before the national anthem at the start of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 in Glendale, Ariz.(Christian Petersen / Getty Images)
Some members of the Oakland Raiders kneel during the playing of the national Anthem before a game against the Washington Redskins.(Alex Brandon / AP)
Washington Redskins players during the national anthem before the game against the Oakland Raiders.(Patrick Smith / Getty Images)
Officials stand on the sideline of the Seattle Seahawks during the playing of the national anthem before a game against the Tennessee Titans. Neither team came out onto the field for the anthem.(Mark Zaleski / AP)
Green Bay Packers players sit in protest during the national anthem prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals.(Stacy Revere / Getty Images)
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Justin Houston is seen taking a knee during the national anthem before a game against the Los Angeles Chargers.(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)
Buffalo Bills players listen to the national anthem prior to a game against the Denver Broncos.(Adrian Kraus / AP)
Members of the Detroit Lions take a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to the start of a game against the Atlanta Falcons.(Rey Del Rio / Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank joins arms with his players during the playing of the national anthem prior to a game against the Detroit Lions.(Leon Halip / Getty Images)
Jermaine Kearse (10), Josh McCown (15) Jamal Adams (33) and Jets CEO Christopher Johnson stand in unison during the national anthem prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins.(Al Bello / Getty Images)
Miami Dolphins players Laremy Tunsil (67), Maurice Smith (27) and Jarvis Landry (14) lock hands with teammates during the playing of the national anthem before a game against the New York Jets.(Seth Wenig / AP)
Denver Broncos tight end Virgil Green (85) gestures as teammate Max Garcia, left, takes a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to a game against the Buffalo Bills.(Adrian Kraus / AP)
Members of the Houston Texans stand with arms locked during the national anthem before a game against the New England Patriots.(Steven Senne / AP)
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie stands during the national anthem before a game against the New York Giants.(Matt Rourke / AP)
New Orleans Saints players sit on the bench during the national anthem before a game against the Carolina Panthers.(Bob Leverone / AP)
Members of the Indianapolis Colts stand and kneel for the national anthem prior to the start of a game against the Cleveland Browns.(Michael Reaves / Getty Images)
Members of the Cleveland Browns stand and kneel during the national anthem before the game against the Indianapolis Colts.(Andy Lyons / Getty Images)
Members of the New England Patriots kneel during the national anthem before a game against the Houston Texans.(Jim Rogash / Getty Images)
Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, left, Mike Wallace, former player Ray Lewis and inside linebacker C.J. Mosley kneel down during the playing of the national anthem before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.(Matt Dunham / AP)
Jacksonville Jaguars players kneel down during the playing of the national anthem before a game against the Baltimore Ravens.(Tim Ireland / AP)
Baltimore Ravens players, including former player Ray Lewis, second from right, kneel down during the playing of the national anthem before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.(Matt Dunham / AP)
Team owner Joe Gibbs, who won three Super Bowls as coach of the Washington Redskins, said of the anthem that, “so much has been sacrificed for our country and our flag. It’s a big deal for us to honor America.”
“I’m proud of the way we’ve represented ourselves, and I’m proud of this sport, too,” Gibbs said after JGR driver Kyle Busch won at New Hampshire. “I think this sport has a certain way they look at things. I really appreciate that.”
NASCAR said 2016 champion Jimmie Johnson had not been invited to the White House for recognition as he had in the past, but that it necessarily wasn’t out of the ordinary because of the change in office.
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