Friday at Dover International Speedway marked the first time NASCAR was in action following Sunday’s national anthem controversy at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Sparked by comments from Richard Childress and Richard Petty, quotes that suggested firing employees who protested the anthem a Monday morning tweet from Donald Trump thrust NASCAR into the political conversation.
At Dover, the racing community had its chance to react. On Friday, Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon, both of whom drive for Richard Childress Racing were asked about those comments from their car owner. The duo were among several drivers offering messages of support.
“I was doing some deer hunting this week,” Newman said. “I drove up to Maryland, and I passed a Greyhound bus and I didn’t see a single employee of RCR or ECR on it, so I think everything is fine.”
When asked if they thought Childress had taken away any choice from his employees of protesting, the pair of teammates responded.
“I have no clue. But for me, I stand for the national anthem, for those that give us the right to go out and race every weekend,” Dillon said.”For me personally, when I go out there, I think it’s an honor to stand during the national anthem and have my hand over my heart and stare at the flag. I enjoy that part of my weekend so I can give a little bit back to those who have given their lives to allow me to go race. So, that’s where I stand, personally. I can’t talk for anyone else.”
“I have to say that the word ‘protest’ is kind of conflicting in my mind,” Newman added. “I don’t think that there is anything to protest when it comes to why I personally stand for the American flag. I think it’s all about liberty and justice for all, and that’s the freedom that we have, and we should all be thankful for that. And if you have the ability to stand, that’s the way I was taught to treat that moment, was to stand. If everybody else was taught differently, it’s news to me.”
Danica Patrick also faced the question about the comments from Petty and Childress.
“How you run your business is how you run your business,” Patrick explained. “You sign a contract that says you’re an independent contractor or you sign one that says you’re an employee. Maybe it comes down to that or maybe it just comes down to doing your job. You have to figure out what’s more important to you.
“If you think something should be done differently and you might sacrifice your job then that’s your choice,” she continued. “It’s your choice the other way too. In general, there’s plenty of platforms to speak your mind. So if it comes as interference to put food on your table or doing something that you love I think that you should probably go by the rules.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. took Twitter by storm earlier in the week for a tweet he put out regarding the protests.
All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests
Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 25, 2017
On Friday, he gave more insight onto his feelings.
“I have always stood for the anthem and I always will,” Earnhardt said. “But, I am not quick to rush to judgement to somebody that will and wants to do something different. We have a podcast that we put out every Tuesday and we had a pretty good discussion on that, which pretty much summed up my position. And I feel confident that anyone that listens to that will know exactly how I feel.
“I think the whole sport respects Richard Petty and Richard Childress for what they have accomplished and what they have done. They speak for themselves and they don’t speak for the entire sport, I believe. I think everybody would handle those situations differently and I can’t speak for other owners about how they would handle that situation.”
Other drivers, such as championship leader Martin Truex Jr. and Jamie McMurray were asked about the comments from Childress and Petty but declined to comment.
About the author
Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.
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The Booger Flicker has not a clue…and somebody definitely told him about the JFK quote. LOL.