No NASCAR Anthem Protests After Executives' Warnings

As he prepared to board Air Force One to return to Washington from New Jersey on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, President Donald Trump said that NFL players protesting the national anthem are "very disrespectful to our country," calling again on team owners to stop what he considers unpatriotic displays in America's most popular sport.

(Published Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017)

It appeared no drivers, crew or other team members protested during the national anthem Sunday prior to a race at New Hampshire Motorspeedway, earning praise from President Donald Trump.

Several team owners and executives had said 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."

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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."

The debate comes as scores of NFL players sat, knelt or raised their fists around the league Sunday when the anthem played. Trump on Friday said it was disrespectful for players protesting during the national anthem — first done by Colin Kaepernick over police treatment of minorities — and cursed about players who did so.

Trump on Monday thanked NASCAR, tweeting, "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!"

Soon after that, veteran racer Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted his support for the right to peacefully protest, quoting President John F. Kennedy: "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

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(Published Friday, Sept. 22, 2017)

NASCAR released a statement Monday calling sports a "unifying influence" in American society.

"Our 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," NASCAR said.

Most but not all owners came down on the side of the president.

Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty's sentiments took it a step further than Childress, 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."

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When asked if a protester at Richard Petty Motorsports would be fired, he said, "You're right."

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."

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.