In a stark variation from scenes of protest observed during performances of national anthems at today's football games, the AP reports that no drivers, crew or other team members participated in a protest during the national anthem to start the NASCAR Cup series race Sunday in Loudon, New Hampshire. It adds that several team owners and executives said they wouldn’t condone "anyone in their organizations" protesting during the anthem amid ongoing protests by sports players at football and baseball games in the latest feud involving president Trump, suggesting that this latest form of protest is split along cultural and geographic lines.
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 and former NASCAR champion Richard Petty took it one step further, and told the AP that “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.”
The sentiment, however, wasn't uniform and at least one team owner, Chip Ganassi- member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America - 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.”
The comments from the NASCAR owners come as numerous NFL players and owners took part in protests at games across the country after Trump on Friday slammed players who kneel rather than stand during the U.S. anthem. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now,'" Trump said during a Friday rally. "'He is fired.'"