Ray Ciccarelli, who gained notoriety for saying in a Facebook post that he intends to leave NASCAR’s Truck series over the sport’s recent changes to policies regarding the national anthem and the Confederate flag, is now leaving the door open to racing next season.
“That’s to be determined,” Ciccarelli told Frontstretch.com on Thursday night.
The 50-year-old Maryland native said that his original social media post has been misconstrued and that he’s not a defender of the Confederate flag, which NASCAR on Wednesday banned from racetracks, but does think everyone should be free to do as they please.
“The [Confederate] 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,” Ciccarelli said. “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.
Ciccarelli, who has made 18 starts over four seasons in the Truck series, said what rankled him more was NASCAR now allowing for peaceful protests, such as kneeling, during the playing of the national anthem.
“I had seen the post about them taking away the rules of where you can kneel for the national anthem,” Ciccarelli said. “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.”
Despite his personal stance, Ciccarelli said he has no problem with people who do kneel for the anthem.
“If you choose to do that, that’s your right, too,” he said. “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.”
Ciccarelli says he has “had a couple conversations” with NASCAR since his initial tweet. He was originally on the entry list for Saturday night’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but has withdrawn from the field. Bayley Currey was listed to drive a second truck entered by Ciccarelli, but Currey has tweeted that he’s no longer associated with the team. On Friday, Currey tweeted that he’s open to other opportunities to drive in the Truck Series, a post that included #dowhatisright.
A different racing circuit has taken a stronger stance with a person it’s connected to — firing a flagman for his social media comments.
IndyCar fired Brad Hockaday on Thursday after he said in a Facebook post that he has “lost all respect for NASCAR” and will “no longer be supporting” its sanctioning body.
Hockaday, a part-time, seasonal employee, waved the flag at Saturday’s Texas Motor Speedway, which opened IndyCar’s coronavirus pandemic-delayed season.