DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Daytona International Speedway will not ban the Confederate flag from track property this weekend, but will offer the American flag to those who wish to fly it on property.
Daytona President Joie Chitwood said Tuesday the speedway will offer an exchange program in which fans can trade a flag for the American flag. Daytona hosts NASCAR races on Saturday and Sunday nights this weekend.
"We are celebrating the American flag this weekend, it is our nation's birthday," Chitwood said. "We're going to have a flag exchange opportunity, so fans who would like to fly the American flag, we'll trade with you whatever flag you have, we want you to celebrate that flag this weekend. That's what is important.
"Going forward, we're really going to have to take a look at where that other (Confederate) flag goes because it doesn't have a place in our sport."
Chitwood said there's not enough time to plan and enforce a ban on the Confederate flag, which NASCAR chairman Brian France does not want flying at NASCAR events.
"At this point, we cannot ban anything and we cannot change our policy," Chitwood said. "Needless to say, there's a lot of discussion and how we get there and what we can do in the future to celebrate all that is right with this country."
The flag issue was heightened last week after nine black churchgoers were slain in Charleston, South Carolina. The suspect in the case, Dylann Roof, embraced Confederate symbols before the attack, posing with the rebel battle flag. That revelation prompted a reappraisal of the role such symbols play in the South.
France, who said he found the Confederate flag an "insensitive symbol" that he finds offensive, has vowed to be aggressive in disassociating it from NASCAR events. He said the Charleston church shooting has pushed the sport to find a way to take a tougher stance.
"Obviously, we have our roots in the South, there are events in the South, it's part of our history like it is for the country," France said. "But it needs to be just that, part of our history. It isn't part of our future.
"We want everybody in this country to be a NASCAR fan, and you can't do that by being insensitive in any one area."