NASCAR drivers welcome POTUS to racetrack
By: Brittany Jennings
It was a historic weekend for the Daytona 500. President Trump was the second president to be the Grand Marshall and deliver the command: “Gentlemen, start your engines!”
Moreover, Trump was the first president ever to take a ceremonial lap around the Florida racetrack in the presidential limo, “The Beast.”
The president and First Lady Melania were welcomed with cheers, as well as chants of "four more years” from the enthusiastic crowd. Supporters at the track were also flying “Make America Great Again” flags.
“Soon, the cars will take to the track for the start. Tires will screech, rubber will burn, fans will scream, and the great American race will begin,” Trump told NASCAR goers before the race began.
“The Daytona 500 is the legendary display of roaring engines, soaring spirits and the American skill, speed and power that we’ve been hearing about for so many years,” he said.
He added: "NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race, what matters most is God, family and country."
In turn, NASCAR drivers embraced the president and the first lady. Trump was seen giving many of them high fives and shout-outs. He also signed 18-year-old driver Hailie Deegan’s helmet. She tweeted: “Today’s goal. Get my helmet signed by Trump.” Her mission was completed with a little help from Donald Trump, Jr., the president’s son.
Deegan wasn’t the only driver who praised the president on race day.
NASCAR driver Austin Dillion posted on Twitter: “Man today was special! Thanks @POTUS for coming to @DISupdates. Always cool when you take a selfie with the president. My #Daytona500 is made and we haven’t even got to race yet.”
Kurt Busch said Trump is a man of the people. Busch tweeted: “Plain and simple, @realDonaldTrump is a man of the people. Thank you & @FLOTUS for coming to the #Daytona500. Your presence and speech had these 100k fans all pumped up!”
Clint Bowyer also praised the president. He tweeted: “Not going to lie, I had no idea what to expect. The man walked in shook all our hands, took selfies, and whatever we asked of him. I judge people on how they treat me and others I’m with, and that’s why I really appreciated meeting @POTUS. Thanks for coming to the #Daytona500.”
Compare how NASCAR drivers treat Trump with other professional athletes from other sports. Take former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick or U.S. Women’s National soccer player Megan Rapinoe. Both of whom have openly disrespected and vilified the president—and more importantly, America.
Kaepernick is no longer known for his football skills, but for his anthem protests against alleged police brutality and racial injustice. Rapinoe has also protested the national anthem in solidarity with Kaepernick.
Rapinoe infamously said, “I’m not going to the f*cking White House,” in a video released by Eight By Eight when asked if she was excited to visit the White House after the World Cup.
Unfortunately, they’re not the only professional athletes who show disdain for our president.
The 2017 Super Bowl champions Philadelphia Eagles were disinvited by Trump when most of the players said they wouldn’t attend the White House ceremony.
The 2018 World Series champions the Boston Red Sox former skipper and Puerto Rican native Alex Cora also didn’t attend along with key players because they didn’t feel “comfortable” celebrating in the White House.
Trump has rightfully criticized these athletes for their anti-American behavior by kneeling during the national anthem and suggested firing any NFL player who protested during the Star-Spangled Banner.
Yet, you didn’t see any protests during the Daytona 500. Instead, you saw patriotism, pride and admiration for Trump and the first lady. NASCAR is known for being America’s most patriotic sport and it was on full display over the weekend.
If Trump’s reception at the Daytona 500 is any indication, then the heartland will go for Trump again in 2020. And that's good news for America.
-Brittany Jennings is the executive producer of The Kuhner Report heard weekdays 6-10 AM on WRKO. Follow her on Twitter @Brittany_J10.