LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — It appeared no drivers, crew or other team members protested during the national anthem Sunday prior to a race at New Hampshire Motorspeedway.
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.”
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.”
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.