President Trump tweets that he's 'proud of NASCAR' for not disrespecting flag

President Donald Trump took to Twitter this past weekend to share his thoughts on professional athletes protesting during the national anthem. The NFL saw many players take a knee in line with a movement that began with Colin Kaepernick last season. There were also players that chose to join arms, stand without protest or even not show up for the anthem at all.

Before Sunday's NASCAR playoff race, motorsports fans took a different approach when Marine Corps veteran Daniel M. Clark sang the famed "Star-Spangled Banner." NBC Sports Network continued to show shots of fans in the stands and tailgate fields waving American flags while driver Brad Keselowski sang the lyrics alongside his daughter. 

The anthem was preceded by an invocation from Pastor Joshua Johnson as well as a presentation of colors from the New Hampshire Air Guard and Active Duty Air Force and was followed by a flyover by two F-15C Eagles from the 104th Fighter Wing, Barnes Air National Guard Base out of Westfield, Massachusetts. This is the norm for NASCAR races.

If that wasn't enough, NASCAR's winningest driver and team owner Richard Petty took it up a notch, speaking against the protests in the NFL to the Associated Press. 

"Anybody that don't stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country," Petty exclaimed. "What got 'em where they're at? The United States."

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Former driver Richard Petty looks on during driver introductions Sunday. USATSI

Owner and former driver Richard Childress, who has two drivers (Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman) currently contending in the NASCAR playoffs, also chimed in on the situation.

"It'll get you a ride on a Greyhound bus," Childress said of the NFL protests. "Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America."

All of this was enough to get the president to tweet his thoughts on the sport of NASCAR. 

While the president defended himself on Twitter, explaining that his frustration is with what he calls disrespecting the flag and not race, many people have associated the national anthem protests with racial tensions and injustices throughout the country. NASCAR as a sport is mostly white, but one of its most popular drivers, Darrell "Bubba" Wallace, has a white father and black mother and is from Mobile, Alabama.

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Bubba Watson is one of NASCAR's most popular drivers. USATSI

Wallace has driven the No. 43 for Petty this season and has six career wins in the Camping World Truck Series. Another popular driver in the sport is 2016 Xfinity Series champion Daniel Suarez, who hails from Mexico.

You might also recall driver Reed Sorenson racing a Donald Trump/Mike Pence paint scheme during the height of the campaign last November at Texas Motor Speedway. NASCAR CEO Brian France also joined playoff drivers Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott as well as Hall of Famer Bill Elliott and David Ragan at a rally last year to endorse then-candidate Trump.

Reed Sorenson drives a Trump themed car during practice at Texas Motor Speedway. AP

While most of the drivers have been hush on the issue, the sport's most popular figure, Dale Earnhardt Jr., shared his thoughts on Twitter on Monday morning.

Earnhardt participated in Sunday's race -- won by Kyle Busch -- and finished 34th out of 39 drivers at New Hampshire. The No. 88 driver is not in the playoffs this year and plans to retire from racing at the end of the season to pursue a career in broadcasting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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