On a day when virtually every NFL game was marked by national anthem player protests in response to President Trump’s remarks about his disdain for the practice, there were no protests at the ISM Connect 300 NASCAR race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Sunday.
It seems NASCAR owners and figureheads were responsible for that.
Team owner Joe Gibbs, a Pro Football Hall of Famer for his time as coach of the Washington Redskins, said, “So much has been sacrificed for our country and our flag. It’s a big deal for us to honor America.”
After Kyle Busch, a member of Gibbs’ team, won the Sunday race in New Hampshire, Gibbs said, “I’m proud of the way we’ve represented ourselves, and I’m proud of this sport, too. I think this sport has a certain way they look at things. I really appreciate that.”
Team owner Richard Childress said Sunday when asked what he would do if one of his employees protested during the anthem, “Get you a ride on a Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over. I told them anyone who works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.”
Team owner Richard Petty reiterated Childress’ comments, saying, “Anybody that don’t stand up for that ought to be out of the country. Period. If they don’t appreciate where they’re at ... what got them where they’re at? The United States.”
The majority owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, Andy Murstein, backed off Petty’s comments, however.
“I would sit down with them and say it’s the wrong thing to do that (take a knee), and many people, including myself, view it as an affront to our great country,” Murstein told ESPN. “If there is disenchantment towards the President or a few bad law-enforcement officers, don’t have it cross over to all that is still good and right about our country.
“They are all proud Americans who have lived through world wars and turbulent times. While I respect their thoughts — and personally I think it’s the wrong thing to kneel — I wouldn’t fire someone for expressing their feelings.”
An official with Team Penske told USA Today that “it’s an issue we’ve never faced and don’t anticipate facing,” and his team had no specific policy on anthem protests.