NASCAR
Bob Pockrass, NASCAR 26d

Brad Keselowski: I'm standing to support my country, not to pick a side

NASCAR

NASCAR Cup driver Brad Keselowski, who often delivers passionate -- and sometimes controversial -- takes on the sport and society, wanted to make sure his fans know why he stands for the national anthem, as he posted a series of tweets Tuesday night on the issue.

Keselowski had tried to explain in a tweet Sunday how he feels about protests during the national anthem.

The Team Penske driver, who penned a blog on the issue a year ago, didn't tweet much more, but he felt compelled to comment after reading the opinion of a Huffington Post contributor that white athletes who don't protest are standing for white supremacy.

Keselowski started with a screenshot of the story and stating: "My reps want me to stay out of this, I CAN'T. 2 all my friends & supporters, I support your civil rights 100% PLEASE DON'T believe this."

Most drivers have refrained from approaching the issue on social media, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. put out a tweet that supported the right to protest:

Earnhardt responded to a follower on Twitter who said he commented on the issue because some owners had spoken on it, including Richard Petty and Richard Childress, who indicated that they would fire any of their employees who protested during the national anthem.

Earnhardt also tweeted a video, without comment, of his dog sitting in front of a flagpole that had a U.S. flag on it. He often posts video of his dog, and the video shows the U.S. flag that he flies daily.

Darrell Wallace Jr., who is African-American, said he agreed with Keselowski's comment to not mix standing for the flag as a sign of racism. He said athletes can do what they want and have right to protest. He said he grew up going to class and respect the country they live in.

"People have a right to protest," Wallace said. "Brad Keselowski said it the best -- let's not get it mixed up with patriotism and racism."

Denny Hamlin posted a video of the national anthem being played, and the players standing, prior to a basketball game on a court at his home.

NASCAR does not have a specific policy or rule about what its drivers must do during the national anthem, although it asks its drivers and crews to stand in a line by their cars or at their pit stalls.

Drivers are given five minutes to get into their cars after the anthem is played and before the engines are fired for them to begin the pace laps for the race.

"Sports are a unifying influence in our society, bringing people of differing backgrounds and beliefs together," NASCAR said in a statement Monday. "Our respect for the national anthem has always been a hallmark of our pre-race events.

"Thanks to the sacrifices of many, we live in a country of unparalleled freedoms and countless liberties, including the right to peacefully express one's opinion."

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