NASCAR's Ray Ciccarelli drew attention when he said he was selling his Gander Truck Series racing team following the confederate flag ban. Days later, Ciccarelli revealed that he believes readers misconstrued his comments on social media. He also said that people have been attacking and abusing his loved ones on social media.
Ciccarelli spoke with TobyChristie.com in an exclusive interview with the intention of setting the record straight. He doesn't regret hitting the post button on Facebook, but he says his opinions were misunderstood. Ciccarelli is unhappy with the way people are treating his family. He also said that he never meant any offense with his comments; he believes that everyone has a right to their own opinion.
"I wasn't raised the way people are portraying me to be. That's just not me," Ciccarelli said. "I am not that type of person. Just the attack — my wife, my family have been attacked and abused on social media. It's just heartbreaking."
When Ciccarelli made his initial comments on Facebook about kneeling during the national anthem or taking away a specific flag, many people responded by saying that he was defending a "racist" flag. The 50-year-old driver took issue with these comments. He said that he wasn't defending the flag. He was trying to look at the issue from both sides.
"I regret how it was misconstrued," Ciccarelli continued. "I don't regret my feelings of believing in the national anthem and standing. I don't like the fact that I was misconstrued about defending the confederate flag. Because in no way shape or form was I defending the confederate flag.
"Everything I was saying was the fact that I understand both sides' feelings toward the flag. My viewpoint, all I was trying to say is how do you take [the flag] from one group and help support the group that it offends and then what do you do to the group that you took it from? Now, they get outraged."
Ciccarelli explained during the interview that his issue wasn't specifically with the confederate flag ban or that drivers can kneel during the national anthem. He was upset about how the decisions "came out of left field." Ciccarelli said that NASCAR had released a statement about Colin Kaepernick and kneeling during the national anthem. Racing's governing body reportedly told teams that they would not condone kneeling. Two years later, drivers have the option to kneel again. Ciccarelli said that the changes just made his blood boil.