Despite NASCAR Drivers Speaking Out Against the Confederate Flag, Don't Expect it to Be Banned From the Racetrack

NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace has called for the sport to "get rid of all Confederate flags" at its events, suggesting it was time for a significant change in policy and that nobody should "feel uncomfortable" when attending a NASCAR race.

The sport's difficult relationship with the flag goes a long way back and the symbol is regularly flown by fans at racetracks across the country.

Five years ago, NASCAR backed then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's decision to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds after white supremacist Dylann Roof shot dead nine people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Given the delicate situation, NASCAR wanted nothing to do with the flag and reiterated "the use of the Confederate flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity" was not allowed. The statement, however, didn't extend as far as preventing fans displaying the flags inside racetracks, which some regularly do.

With protests against social injustice and racial discrimination extending into a 14th consecutive day in the U.S. following the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25, Wallace has called for NASCAR to do away with the Confederate flag once and for all.

"We are trying to figure out next steps, and my next step would be to get rid of all Confederate flags," he told CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.

"There should be no individual that is uncomfortable showing up to our events to have a good time with their family that feels some type of way about [...] an object they have seen flying.

"No one should feel uncomfortable when they come to a NASCAR race. So it starts with Confederate flags. Get them out of here. They have no place for them."

Other NASCAR drivers have echoed Wallace's comments.

"I'd love to not see them at the race track, honestly, because it doesn't make everyone comfortable, so that's kind of where I stand on that," Team Penske Ryan Blaney told NBC Sports on Sunday. "Bring your 50 stars flag. I think that would be way better."

Blaney's teammate, Brad Keselowski, was on the same wavelength. "I only salute one flag and that's America's," he explained.

"I recognize that that flag might mean something different to different people, but it doesn't mean United States of America to me."

However, he stopped short of urging NASCAR to ban the symbol.

"I'm not gonna tell people they need to get rid of it," said Keselowski, who won the Food 500 in Bristol, Connecticut, two weeks ago.

"That's not my right either. But I certainly don't salute it or respect it or probably anyone else who feels the same way. But, at the end of the day, it's not our call."

We will listen and learn!#BlackLivesMattters pic.twitter.com/AYoYdY8IlX

— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) June 7, 2020

On Sunday, Wallace, Blaney and Keselowski were among the NASCAR Cup drivers who released a video supporting protesters demonstrating against racial inequality and racism.

"The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others in the black community are heartbreaking [...] and can no longer be ignored," the drivers said in the video.

"The process begins with us listening and learning because understanding the problem is the first step in fixing it. We are committed to listening with empathy and with an open heart to better educate ourselves."

Former NASCAR great and current FOX NASCAR pundit Jeff Gordon was also among those demanding change.

"I'll never know what it's like to walk the shoes of anyone that's experienced racism," Gordon, a four-time NASCAR Cup series winner, said on Sunday during the broadcast of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 from Atlanta.

"I do know I can be better, we can do better to create positive change. We need to step up now more than we ever have in the past. We are listening. We are learning. We are ready for change."

Newsweek has contacted NASCAR for comment.

Bubba Wallace, NASCAR
Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 McDonald's Chevrolet, wears a "I Can't Breath - Black Lives Matter" T-shirt under his fire suit in solidarity with protesters around the world during the national anthem prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 7 in Hampton, Georgia. Chris Graythen/Getty