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President Donald Trump sure likes to play the hits.
Trump hosted 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. at the White House on Monday and made sure to bring up NASCAR teams standing for the national anthem and NASCAR CEO Brian France’s presidential endorsement within the first eight minutes of his remarks honoring Truex and the No. 78 Furniture Row team’s title.
The mention of the France endorsement came first. Less than three minutes into his speech, Trump mentioned the friendship he has with France and the fact that France (and other NASCAR drivers) endorsed him in February of 2016.
“Brian has been with us since the beginning like so many others who love NASCAR and he’s been really a supporter right from the beginning,” Trump said. “He said ‘we support Trump.’ And so I want to thank you very much Brian, that was incredible. That meant a lot.”
Not long after the endorsement, Trump tried to say that NASCAR had endorsed him. The kerfuffle caused NASCAR to claim that France’s endorsement and been a “personal and private” one despite his presence on the stage to endorse Trump in his capacity as the CEO of the sport his family has run since its inception.
About five minutes later, Trump waded back into the national anthem controversy that he delighted in throughout the 2017 season. As Trump derided NFL players who took a knee during the national anthem before games to protest systemic inequality in September, NASCAR owners Richard Petty and Richard Childress each made striking statements in support of Trump’s demand that everyone must stand for the anthem.
Petty said anyone who didn’t stand up for the anthem should be out of the country while Childress said any employee of his who took a knee during the anthem should get on a Greyhound bus. After their comments — and NASCAR’s slow response to rebuke them — Trump said he was “proud” of NASCAR.
“And I will tell you one thing I know about NASCAR, they do indeed, Brian, stand for the playing of the national anthem,” Trump said Monday in front of the assembled crowd on the White House lawn. “Right? They do indeed. Somebody said ‘maybe you shouldn’t say that, that will be controversial’ I said ‘that’s OK, NASCAR’s not going to mind it at all.’”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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