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Ray Ciccarelli on Decision to Leave NASCAR, Says He’s ‘Getting Bombarded With Threats’

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

Prior to Wednesday night’s (June 10) NASCAR Cup Series race, Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series driver Ray Ciccarelli sent out a Facebook post stating his stance on recent changes in NASCAR.

The post indicated Ciccarelli would stop competing in NASCAR following the 2020 season after the sanctioning body changed its code of conduct regarding the national anthem, allowing for peaceful protests. It also came shortly after NASCAR banned the Confederate flag from all racetracks.

On Thursday evening (June 11), Ciccarelli reached out to Frontstretch to explain his position and his decision to end his career in the sport. He will, however, be driving the No. 49 truck this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway and select races throughout the season before departing.

Dustin Albino, Frontstretch: Walk me through what happened yesterday.

Ray Ciccarelli: I had seen the post about them taking away the rules of where you can kneel for the national anthem. That just irritated me, because personally, I don’t believe in that. I have family members that have been in the military, and so on.

I also believe, if you choose to do that, that’s your right too. It’s just irritating because I feel like you’re being told what you can and can’t do. Just slightly irritating, to be truthful with you.

Albino: Did you have an inkling that this rule was going to happen and NASCAR was going to ban the Confederate flag?

Ciccarelli: The flag means nothing to me. It never has. My thing [has] nothing [to do with] the flag, that’s why I’m not sure why it turned into the flag. I could care less about the flag. My point was, somebody out there does care about it, or [there are] people that don’t care for it. I understand both sides and the meaning of it… that I do know.

The only thing I was saying was, you take one thing from somebody and help [make] somebody else more comfortable, then you have the person you took it from, and now they’re not happy. That’s the whole point that I was trying to make.

If you go back and look at that post, I can’t believe the beating that I’m taking was all because of a flag. Absolutely has nothing to do with the flag. I’m a northerner. I’ve never had one of those flags or nothing like that. I even said that. It’s just the fact that you’re taking from somebody that it may mean something to and help someone that it means something to, too.

I don’t know if it was taken out of context or what. Trust me, I understand what that flag means to both parties. What’s the happy medium, you know?

I love what Bubba Wallace is doing, I love it. I think it’s great because that’s what he believes in. That’s what makes this country so great; you have something you believe in and you can do it.

Albino: It says Sarah Ciccarelli on the post, so is that your wife?

Ciccarelli: Yeah, that’s my wife. She has nothing to do with it. I don’t know how she got into the mix.

Albino: Her name was on the statement at the end, that’s why I asked.

Ciccarelli: I never put her on nothing. I don’t know how she got on there, to be truthful with you. All she does is have the name for the ownership [of the team]. I do everything.

Albino: Why did you feel the need to make a statement to begin with?

Ciccarelli: I was frustrated because of the whole changing of the policy. I love NASCAR racing, always have. It was the one place you could go to where you could just go have fun, everyone got along and it was a fun place to go. You could get away from the daily stresses and all of that. You didn’t have to get into politics and all the political stuff, you know?

I had no clue, because what I said, I don’t think, was wrong. That’s where I’m so shocked, to be honest with you. Me believing that I don’t think kneeling during the anthem is good and if somebody else believes in it, that’s fine. That’s what I’m saying about everyone having their own beliefs. If you believe in that, that’s awesome, you can do it.

Just like Kirk [Price, the NASCAR official who kneeled last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway]. I think it’s awesome that Kirk kneeled. He fought for this country, that’s his right.  

Albino: What would you say to Bubba if you had the chance?

Ciccarelli: I would say, personally, I’m proud of what he’s doing and following his beliefs.

Albino: Financially, how does this affect your team?

Ciccarelli: It’s more so – other than money – I don’t live my life by money. I live it by how I live my life every day, how I treat people, and it’s more so affected me emotionally because the way I’m being portrayed is not me. That’s not how I was raised.

That’s what hurts me the most on top of my family being bashed. They have nothing to do with this.

Albino: Did you get any sponsorship inquiries because of this?  

Ciccarelli: I don’t do things for political things and all of that, nor do I try to capitalize on that. I love racing. I do it as a hobby. I run the amount of races I can run because I love being a part of it. It’s my childhood dream as a kid. I use my own money to do this, and I just go to have fun. Where I finish, it doesn’t matter. Being able to strap into that truck and run laps around that track is a dream come true.

I don’t do a lot, to be honest with you, because I don’t do it for publicity, I don’t do it for notoriety. Even when I race dirt, I never put my name over the door. I don’t do it for recognition, I just do it because I love it.

Albino: What was your racing experience prior to 2017?

Ciccarelli: I ran dirt late models, asphalt, [K&N] East.

Albino: Why deactivate your Facebook account?

Ciccarelli: Because, literally, we were getting bombarded with hate, threats and things like that. My family is getting harassed, which is disheartening. My family comes before anything.

Albino: Outside the racing community, has there been support, or has it been negative?

Ciccarelli: I’ve got both. Everybody feels the same way; there’s positives and negatives.   

Albino: Has NASCAR reached out to you?

Ciccarelli: Yeah, I’ve had a couple conversations, yes.

Albino: Is it weird that you have more notoriety now than when you were on the racetrack?

Ciccarelli: I don’t like it. Yes.

Albino: How would you sum up today?

Ciccarelli: Very emotional and stressful.

Albino: After this year, do you still plan on not racing?

Ciccarelli: That’s to be determined.

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About Dustin Albino

Dustin Albino
Dustin joined the Frontstretch team at the beginning of the 2016 season. 2020 marks his sixth full-time season covering the sport that he grew up loving. His dream was to one day be a NASCAR journalist, thus why he attended Ithaca College (Class of 2018) to earn a journalism degree. Since the ripe age of four, he knew he wanted to be a storyteller.

31 comments

  1. Avatar

    Courage to go against the narrative and falsehood is rare. I wish this man luck. Courage is in short supply these days, again to go against the BS narrative. And what “Bubba” is doing is not courage, imo. A flame thrower for his own gain, imo. It remains to be seen what the bandwagon jumping “Bubba” will cost him. I hope plenty. “Bubba” crying, yet he is a celebrity not a zillionaire but I am damn sure he can pay his bills then some every week. Hanging out the the bad white people, living or dating with a white chick…etc. He staked his tent at the wrong campsite. I truly believe it. A little late to the “victim” party, but hey the other night, sadly got a lot of mileage thrown his way. This man Ray talked the talk, and is walking the walk. It is costing him. Prayers for the Ray’s of the world!

  2. Avatar

    Taking a knee and taking down flags will only make things worse. It is sad that NASCAR would get involved in trying to remove their biggest Fan Base’s History and Heritage. People who know their history, know that the flag had little or nothing to do with what is really going on. Give them an inch and they will take a 2 and 1/2 mile track.

    • Avatar

      Richard Petty said he would fire someone who went against the flag or anthem, but he is supporting a group that hates white people. Do we need reform? Yes, but All Lives Matter, not Just Blacks, that is putting one ethnic group above another. I have done 3 tours overseas, and support peaceful protest, but this has turned into a shit show. You had good honest people protesting but you had POS looting and killing innocent people. With this whole black lives matter has turned into the killing and looting. They own that , that over shadows the peaceful protest. So Mr. Petty where do you stand, because your driver is saying lacks are better than whites, when we should all be equal. They have the same chance to go to college, theres pell grant( which are free) and you have scholarships and worse come to worse take out a student loan. There are chances for blacks just as the whites you hate…All Lives Matter

  3. Avatar

    I thank nascar is trying to satisfy some people at the fealings of others, the flag has nothing to do with race or color of skin, people needs to study history again. It’s a shame that money rules every thing.NASCAR IS HEADED DOWN A ROAD OF DISASTER !

    • Avatar
      Barbara DeSantis

      Freedom of speech is still our first amendment…we don’t expect everyone to agree with us. ..everyone has a right to there thoughts feelings and speech. God Bless Ray and his family for speaking how he feels. That’s his god given right just as it’s Bubbas to have Black lives matter on his car . All I know is for me I am an American who loves our country our 🇺🇸 And I will not watch any sport that condones kneeling during the national anthem !

  4. Avatar

    I grew up in the grass roots of Stock Car Racing, if you will. I was at Jacksonville Speedway, when they tried to say Wendell Scott, didn’t win. I didn’t agree with way it happened but thats the way it was back then.My Southern Heritage has been under attack for decades. The Confederate flag is not a symbol of racism, but a symbol of Southern Heritage. The Black ppl think the WHITE ppl owe them. As a Nation we owe ourselves and others respect. That’s is all. If something positive comes from that then it’s a good thing. However, I don’t owe a Black person nothing, only respect and if it’s not returned then and only then do I see color. I’ve been to so many tracks, many not being raced on now. I’ve seen NASCAR in it’s glory day’s and now, sadly, it’s spiraling down, crash and burn day’s. There cowardly decision this week, I believe,is continuing the falling of NASCAR’s dominoes. The courage it took for Ray to make a stand is just a ripple starting.
    Where is the race fan’s first amendment right ? We’re witnessing a destruction of moralities and freedoms that will never be made right again. I will not dignify naming names, nor calling the cowards that call themselves men. The sun is sitting on my life, however my children’s children, children will bare the burden of the cowards in America.
    That you Ray, God Bless.

    • Avatar

      This is much like when there is a bad experience at a business. For every person who complains, there are many more who leave and never come back. There are millions upon millions of race fans who have never once even thought of discriminating against another race. They don’t like being preached at by the Woke Police and many of them are feeling marginalized by modern NASCAR anyway. This will not make them desperately cling to fandom. Not a good move by a dying entity.

    • Avatar

      I already posted this in another section, but it seems pretty relevant over here too:

      Little Rock Nine protests.
      George Wallace.
      Emmit Till lynching.
      Jim Crow laws.
      Mary Turner lynching.
      Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination.
      Medgar Evers’ assassination.
      Birthplace of the KKK.
      Flag of Dylan Roof.
      Such rich heritage that flag carries with it. indeed.
      I’ve been watching NASCAR for as long as I’ve been able to operate a television. The kind of television with a rotary knob. I’ve never been more proud of the sport than I have been in the last couple weeks.
      Take your stupid flags home. It’s been a wort on the sport for DECADES.
      Later, Ray Ciccarrelli. I just heard your name for the first time yesterday. Good luck with the sale.
      The drivers should take a stand and not race if the Stars and Bars fly at any event.
      Now is the time.

      • Avatar

        How stupid of a shallow paragraph! You want your voice heard! But you don’t want the other sides heard! How selfcentered & how childish! You want your rights upheld but not the other side! You my friend are the true racist! And this racism is pure bull-s—t from NASCAR to crawfish away instead of having an equal playing field? It’s okay to have that black blm car running in circles, but the fan, that’s not there! cannot fly his flag! Bull-s—t ! Talk about a double standard! Be Happy! You’all got Nascar to stoop to your needs for the day? Now, what do you want removed next? Tha American Flag? You are a racist bigot & i hope you will be Happy with your Nascar? As if your going to watch any of it? Shame on you Nascar! God Bless you Ray! You do have a backbone! Not like the one that i”m responding to!!! And now should not be the time! Are you a Democrat Socialist? Sounds like you are!

        • Avatar
          love me hate me - i don't care

          again – why is it ok for Trump to represent our country at a race, Reagan to do that, to also have a sponsored car in 2016 for trump?

          What boggles my mind is that you all seem to think this flag is representative of the country TODAY. It is not.

          Some of you all (rightfully) protesting this as it is your right as an American. So, why is it ok for the previous things i mentioned to happen and not this. As for kneeling during the anthem, go educate yourself

          AM Ruth – you’re all wrapped around the axle about a flag that represents “heritage” – what heritage exactly. I mean even Dale Sr took it down as it made his kids uncomfortable. What are you holding onto? That flag represents a division in our country, we went to war with each other….do you realize that?

          Should Germans fly the Nazi flag claiming “Heritage not hate” Open your eyes and see this from someone elses eyes. I’m not asking you agree, but i am asking you to listen.

          Finally – what happened to this???
          Matt 22 v 37-40
          [37] Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
          [38] This is the first and great commandment.
          [39] And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
          [40] On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

          Lets stop getting wrapped up about a piece of fabric, and work on being better humans. Lets stop calling people socialists, and call each other EQUAL. Lets spend our energy doing something better and making this world better than it is today.

          And for all the people who will hate this, i say to you – love, peace, education

        • Avatar

          Actually, AM Ruth, we have been listening to your voice be heard loud and clear for 400 years.

        • Avatar

          I couldn’t have said it any truer. Thank you for being a Patriotism, mind and eyes, wide open. God Bless America.

      • Avatar

        “The Truth”
        I believe the only truth you know is when you read you morning magazine. When your reading Ebony or the NYT, try to remember to clean yourself.
        Our founding fathers knew what lay ahead of there infant country. They provided The Constitution and The Bill of Rights, because of this!
        My Southern Heritage has been raped, again and again! Your blind racists, is why America is imploding. What if MLK statues were being pulled down? They would be riots,and more riots looting and looting etc. But our American history can be reworded, deleted, erased to fit you and ppl like you narratives.
        I have a Americas Red, White and Blue flying and Bars & Stars be low it, out front of my home. Very proud I do. ” Don’t Tread On Me ”
        You know zero about Patriotism and being an American !

      • Avatar

        The Truth, you are just a ignorant D A N !

        • Avatar

          Ron Cain, though your last comment doesn’t warrant a response, it really shows your true colors.

  5. Avatar

    The fact that he is getting threats speaks volumes about the reality of the situation. Neither side has the moral high ground. There is nothing but hate and animosity towards the other side on both sides of the aisle. This, sadly, is what America has become in 2020. People trying to FORCE other people to believe what they believe and having no tolerance for differing opinions. Unfortunately this is only going to get worse. The future is grim. I believe the roots of this negativity and lack of tolerance has always been around but social media and the internet has allowed them to bloom into pure hate. It allows people to say things publicly that they would never say face to face while at the same time being reinforced and told they are right by their insulated, one side only, social media peers. The current political environment is not the cause but the result of this hate. And I stress that neither side has the moral high ground anymore and the fact that no one can see that just proves how blinded we all are by our own hate.

  6. Avatar
    David Russell Edwards

    Just reading these comments is enough to explain the situation.

  7. Avatar

    Let’s just look at some numbers directly fro the FS ratings page shall we:
    June 7 Darlington: 3.957 million viewers
    June 10 Martinsville: 1.711 million viewers

    — 2.246 million viewers

    Looks like a whole lotta good old boys and gals found something better to do with their time. Well maybe all those BLM cats will start watching to take up the slack on those free TVs they got down at Target ….

  8. Avatar

    Congrats Bubba. You have successfully taken RPM hostage. You have effectively extended your contract. Imagine the uproar by your new political party BLM IF YOU WERE LET GO. This also probably means Kyle Larson won’t be back inNASCAR anytime soon.

  9. Avatar

    These comments are hilarious. Hahaha… thanks for laughs.

  10. Avatar

    I wonder now if a certain writer on #frontstretch will now take down his Confederate moniker/emoji/header??? Or maybe not….

  11. Avatar

    One way to jump start a mediocre and fading effort perhaps. A real celebrity victim for white male snowflakes. “We’re victims”. If he and his fans had learned a real history they might not find so much pride in it.