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Fire on Fridays: Speaking Up Isn’t a Bad Thing

I wish more drivers would speak up and not be afraid to do so.

Not just on political or social issues, not only when it’s relevant or convenient, but in general.

It stems from seeing rookie of the year contender Tyler Reddick speaking up in the face of President Donald Trump’s tweet directed at Bubba Wallace, rehashing the noose incident from two weeks ago, falsely calling it a “hoax” and also falsely commenting on NASCAR’s ratings decline.

Reddick’s tweet read: “We don’t need an apology. We did what was right and we will do just fine without your support.” It was coupled with a GIF of Denzel Washington slamming the door in somebody’s face for good measure.

But shortly thereafter, the tweet was deleted, and his regularly scheduled appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio was postponed to the following day, when he addressed the deletion of said tweet, saying that he “[stood] by [his] comments on Twitter and support for [his] friend Bubba Wallace,” but that “after many conversations with the men and women at [Richard Childress Racing], the decision was made to delete the post.

I mean, he isn’t wrong, right? He did respond emotionally. What’s wrong with that?

I rarely see Clint Bowyer be afraid to respond emotionally to anything, and it’s no coincidence he’s a fan favorite personality-wise. I’m racking my brain for the last time a driver who spoke out, be it something on track or off, and was ridiculed (publicly, at least) for it.

It’s just a part of where we are in society in 2020: where corporate America still rules, because money talks. That’s how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future. Heck, maybe forever. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

I can’t be the only one who would like to see drivers be more outspoken and not be afraid to step over the company line, right? There are understandably specific boundaries. For example, Corey LaJoie‘s No. 32 Go FAS Racing machine will have Trump 2020 adorned on it for multiple more races this season. LaJoie spoke on his podcast, Sunday Money, on his feelings surrounding the situation, comparing himself to Burt Reynolds in Stroker Ace when he’s forced to wear a chicken suit due to his sponsor being the one who foots the bill.

Sponsor gives the team money, team pays the driver, driver drives the car. That’s how it works. And LaJoie isn’t in a position where he can say, “You know what, I’m against this specific company/sponsorship, so I’m not going to drive. Good day to you, sir.” That ain’t gonna happen. So he’s doing his job, which happens to put him in a precarious situation.

On the podcast, he all but said he doesn’t agree with the sponsor adorning his car and his firesuit. Because if he did, frankly, the results wouldn’t have been pretty in the short or long term.

But to have a driver delete a tweet with no political undertones whatsoever (@ me, go ahead) because the higher-ups at the team didn’t want to be involved, that’s weaksauce.

Reading between the lines a little here, Reddick was tweeting as a human in support of another human, one that happens to be his friend, who was being attacked for something not of his doing. Falsehoods were being spread about him (again) and he was standing up for his buddy.

I don’t see a problem with that. I guess RCR did. That’s its choice, and it stands by it. Just like Reddick said he stands by his comments in the deleted tweet.

So what’s the point? Everybody knows he said it, there’s screenshots everywhere about it, he’s talked about it. We’re going in circles here.

I’m thankful that some drivers have spoken up publicly in recent weeks given the events that have transpired, be it seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Ty Dillon or anybody else who’s a public figure in the sport.

If the trend of being shy to pull the trigger and say something, anything, when it’s clear that something needs to be said continues, the growth NASCAR has experienced in the last couple months will be stunted.

Actions do speak louder than words, though. I recognize that. Kevin Harvick has been quiet on social media in the midst of George Floyd’s death, the Confederate flag ban and Trump’s tweet, but he was the one who spearheaded the idea to push the No. 43 to the front of the grid and stand in solidarity with Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway.

That’s leadership behind the scenes. Which, again, is GREAT. I just wish more would make it public.

To show the world that NASCAR isn’t changing its policies, ideologies and inclusiveness because it’s trendy and the right thing to do. But because it’s who they are and what they represent as a garage.

I know it, and I’d hope the drivers, crew chiefs, owners and all other members involved know it.

But it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to show that to the public, and when they do, it be uncensored.

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18 thoughts on “Fire on Fridays: Speaking Up Isn’t a Bad Thing”

  1. Is it ok to speak up if you are a conservative politically? Or are you only allowed if liberal? Seems to me that one view and only one view of the Bubba situation was allowed.

    • There is no liberal standpoint on the noose situation. Sport’s only black driver’s team found a noose in the garage, only noose at the track. NASCAR reports it to the FBI, as you should do with potential hate crimes. FBI investigates and finds that the noose could not have been a targeted message because it was already there in October.

      There is no liberal spin there. These are the facts, as per the FBI.

      • Then why did NASCAR find it important to still support Wallace after Bubba refused the FBI’s finding and said he didn’t care, to him it was a “straight up noose”? Couple that with the differing statement by Wallace that he didn’t see the noose, then later he did see the noose? Also, why didn’t NASCAR review video or photos of previous races at Talladega before getting the FBI involved? If they had, they’d have seen it was there when Ryan Blaney had that stall in the Fall race. There’s just more to this whole deal than just your ‘cut-and-dried facts”.

        • I thought it was Paul Menard who had that stall in last fall’s race. Why hasn’t he raised a stink about it being a threat to him?

        • Except if you actually listened to Bubba and not just read Fox News headlines, Bubba never once disputed the FBI’s findings. He disputed people who said there was no noose.

          You need to learn context. Wallace didn’t PHYSICALLY see the noose. When he’s talking about seeing it, he’s referring to the picture that NASCAR released to the public later

          If you get a letter in the mail with no address that said the sender would kill you and your family, are you going to try and look into it further yourself or are you going to call the police?

        • Quite the leap your analogy took on there. Nobody said anything about killing anyone. Now, if someone sent me a picture of a noose with your other qualifiers, I would probably throw it away and think nothing of it. And, I’m quite clear on context, its just the inference that can leave some confused.

  2. This is like saying those who kneel are “brave”. Nowadays bravery is going against the groupthink. Just ask Drew Brees

      • No Colin Kapernick rejected the contract he was offered (for many millions of dollars) after having two bad seasons (statistics-wise) and no one else wanted to pick him up. All he had to do was sign the dotted line and he would have been playing. Get your facts straight lefty.

        • 1. Yes, Kaepernick opted out of his contract… after the new 49ers General Manager told him he could either opt out or be released. He couldn’t just sign something and keep playing for the 49ers.

          2. That doesn’t change the fact that 31 other NFL teams have had years to sign him yet continue not to do so. Brett Hundley, somebody who has constantly shown he isn’t starter material in the NFL and actively torpedoed playoff hopes for the Packers a couple of years ago, still has a job in the league. A former Super Bowl starting quarterback with a much higher career passer rating (88.9 compared to Hundley’s 67.6) currently is not in the league.

          Maybe you should learn what you’re talking about and get your facts straight, dummy.

        • First let me start with Bite Me and F you. Now that that’s out of the way I feel better.

          “He couldn’t just sign something a play for the 49’ers. Why not? Explain to me why that was not an option. You just sort of expected me to accept that as some sort of obvious rule of nature.

          Now I will explain why 31 other teams didn’t want him.
          OK, the last thing any team wants is to have a distraction that overshadows the purpose the team is out there… TO WIN GAMES… PERIOD. His non-football antics were a distraction. Whether good or bad, they were a distraction. The fact that he did it during the anthem also made it controversial. So now you have a controversial distraction.

          So let’s say one of the other 31 teams picked him up as back-up. If it isn’t worth having a controversial distraction for a starting quarterback, why would you want your back-up quarterback ( a guy that is supposed to just be there if needed) creating that distraction.
          Now let’s say you pick him up, and this goes for Petty and Bubba as well. After the year is up you don’t want to renew his contract. How do you think that’s going to go over. By picking this driver/quarterback up you have tied your hands. You either need to keep them and renew the contract and face a group of whiners on Twitter claiming that it was because he was black or kneeled of both and threatening to boycott everything. Any other driver on a back marker team or back-up quarterback could be released without anyone even noticing under normal circumstances. Now if this were Tom Brady or Kyle Busch it might be worth having to deal with all that, but in both cases we aren’t talking about a person dominating their sport. So, if I am an owner and those are my choices, I think it might be smarter to just steer clear and hire someone else. After all, above all else, both the NFL and NASCAR are businesses.

        • Yep, it’s all risk vs reward. The Baltimore Ravens were contemplating bringing in Kaepernick back in 2017 because Flacco had an injury. At about the same time Kaepernick’s girlfriend tweeted a picture equating the Raven’s owner to a slave owner. No job for Colin. If he were great, it would be worth the risk for the potential reward, but there are plenty of backup quarterbacks floating around the NFL that won’t bring the same distractions, so they get hired instead.
          Same for Tim Tebow. He wasn’t starting QB material, but was a great athlete that could have had an NFL career in some capacity, except as soon as he showed up on a team’s roster, his fans began clamoring for him to become the starter. Owner’s don’t want the circus unless the player is absolutely worth it.
          If Kurt Busch were a mediocre driver, he would never have had a job past his meltdown at Penske.

  3. Frankly, I’m sick of celebrities giving their opinions, especially when they are incompetent to do so. For myself, I am LESS likely to support a cause if a celebrity is using it to get attention for him/herself. And YES, that includes certain NASCAR drivers who can only get attention by making political statements rather than anything they do on the track.

  4. John W has a valid point. Is it okay for a driver to say he supports the president? Is it okay for a driver to say All Lives Matter? Is it okay for a driver say he supports our law enforcement officers? Or does a driver have to stop and check to see what topics Nascar and the sponsors will allow him to express an honest opinion on? Reddick was smart to keep his mouth (sorta) shut and not take a chance on pissing off the wrong folks.

    I’m thankful I’m retired and no one can hold a job over my head to coerce my political affiliations.

  5. He was smart to delete it. All teams are scared of losing sponsorship after the Kyle Larson debacle.

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