On a day when many NFL players across the country chose to kneel during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” prior to the games, not a single NASCAR driver or crew member took a knee before the start of the Cup Series playoff race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
And that no driver or crew member fell to their knee may not be a surprise considering the comments team owners Richard Petty and Richard Childress made Sunday when asked what would happen if anyone under their employment didn’t stand at attention for the national anthem.
“Anybody that don’t stand up for that ought to be out of the country. Period,” Petty said, via USA Today. “If they don’t appreciate where they’re at … what got them where they’re at? The United States.”
Childress was equally direct when asked by reporters prior to the ISM Connect 300 about his stance on kneeling for the anthem.
“Get you a ride on a Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over,’’ Childress said. “Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.’’
Both Petty and Childress are members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, having been elected in 2010 and 2017, respectively. Petty won a record-tying seven Cup championships and a record 200 races as a driver, and is the minority owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, which entered one car in Sunday’s race.
Childress won six Cup championships as the car owner for driver Dale Earnhardt. Richard Childress Racing entered three cars in Sunday’s race, including one for Childress’ grandson, Austin Dillon.
The stance shared by Petty and Childress differentiates from how several NFL owners responded to the unrest created by divisive remarks President Donald Trump made in a speech Friday.
Several NFL teams released statements after Trump said at a rally on Friday that NFL owners who have a player protest should say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired.” On Sunday, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, as a form of silent protest, each locked arms with players while the national anthem was playing before games in London and Detroit.
“I met with our team captains prior to the game to express my support for them, all NFL players and the league following the divisive and contentious remarks made by President Trump, and was honored to be arm in arm with them, their teammates and our coaches during our anthem,” Khan said in a statement.