NASCAR is moving full speed ahead with plans to race Saturday at Daytona International Speedway for the final regular season event of the Cup Series schedule, the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
The race follows a week of news around athlete strikes in professional sports leagues, including the NBA, WNBA, MLB and MLS, and game postponements in each of those leagues, as well as the NHL, following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc.
NASCAR president Steve Phelps addressed the sport’s place in combating racial inequality before the Saturday’s race in a discussion with NBCSN’s broadcasters Krista Voda and Brad Daugherty.
“I pivot back, frankly, to where we were back in early June,” Phelps said. “With, you know, coming out of the death of George Floyd, what the drivers did with their video in Atlanta, you know, kind of that moment of listening that we had as a sport in Atlanta.”
Phelps also cited the sport’s ban of the Confederate flag and the industry’s support for Black driver Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway after a rope tied like a noose was found in his garage stall, which the FBI later determined was not a hate crime. Phelps reiterated that he was proud of the work the sport had done in June, but he did not mention an action plan for the future.
“There’s still work that needs to be done, for sure,” Phelps said. “And since June, we’ve done a lot of listening with our own employees, with our industry broadly, with our many partners, Comcast, Coca-Cola, Anheiser-Busch, Geico and many, many others about the role that sports can play, the role that our athletes can play and the roles, frankly, that our broadcast sponsors and our sponsors can play in what’s going on in our sport.”
Earlier this week, Wallace said in a Twitter thread that NASCAR’s decision to continue to race, “DOES NOT mean we are stepping down and turning away from the dark and evil acts that have taken over our nation.”
“Absolutely NOT!!!” Wallace tweeted. “I can assure all of you that myself and many of my competitors are continuing to work hard with @NASCAR to continue the efforts and the fight for racial equality. Let’s stand or kneel TOGETHER and continue push for what’s right.”
Without any pause, NASCAR is set to race the 400-miler. Follow along here for lap-by-lap updates from NASCAR’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Refresh this page for the latest updates. Full results will be published here shortly after the race.