DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After a veterans organization had its Super Bowl program ad rejected, Clay Greenfield knew what he wanted to do.
Following a 2017 season where player protests during the national anthem were the NFL’s biggest storyline, American Veterans (AMVETS) had tried to place an ad in the game program encouraging people to stand for the national anthem with its hashtag “#PleaseStand.” Their proposed ad also included donation link to the foundation, which helps provide job assistance and job services to military veterans.
The NFL didn’t allow the ad in the program, saying the Super Bowl has “never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement.” As the season wore on, the anthem debate had become politically polarizing as President Donald Trump couldn’t help himself from weighing in on the virtues of standing for the anthem. Players, led by Colin Kaepernick, had started kneeling for the anthem as a protest of systemic inequality.
Greenfield, 33, wasn’t thrilled with the NFL’s rejection of AMVETS’ ad and needed a sponsor for Friday’s season-opening Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona. So he reached out to the organization and asked if they wanted to be on his truck.
“I just am a big supporter of our veterans and our military and I kind of felt like they were being shafted a little so I wanted to do what I could to help make up and support our veterans and military,” Greenfield told Yahoo Sports. “And it’s not like I’m doing this out of a grudge or anything. Almost every truck I’ve ever had since 2010 has had an American flag on it somewhere. I felt like it was a good opportunity to showcase those guys and what they’re all about.”
Greenfield’s truck is the first time a NASCAR team has put itself in the debate surrounding national anthem protocol since two prominent Cup Series owners said in September what should happen to team members of theirs who don’t stand for the anthem. The day after Richard Childress and Richard Petty’s comments, Trump took to Twitter and conflated their sentiments with the entirety of NASCAR’s.
The #PleaseStand hashtag is featured four times in various places on Greenfield’s truck and the truck is wrapped to resemble an American flag.
If he qualifies for Friday night’s race — a decent bet based on his practice speeds — it’ll be Greenfield’s 37th career Truck Series start. His last start came in October at Talladega in the same truck and American flag wrap. But it’s not like his small team was able to simply take that truck and throw a few decals on it. While he finished eighth — his best career finish over eight years in the series — he was involved in two crashes and the truck was pretty much destroyed.
Rebuilding was a tall order for a part-time team with “really, like three” crew members, one engine and two trucks. The team is using a new stock motor offered by NASCAR in 2018 and the truck’s components had to be refigured for the engine to fit. And Greenfield wasn’t much help himself, showing off a scar on the underside of his left wrist, which could be mistaken for a grapefruit instead of a joint.
“I got hurt in a dirt car and broke my wrist, so I really couldn’t do a whole lot,” Greenfield said. “And every winter I’m used to working really hard on the trucks and this year I had to work really hard on me and not so much on the truck. Because I lost all range of motion — it’s been like all day every day.”
But Greenfield’s got a shot at Daytona. Or at least he hopes he does. The track is the site of his only other top 10 in the Truck Series and the new motor gives him confidence that he can compete with teams who have far more funding than he can provide from his asphalt company.
“I feel like this is the best chance I’ve ever had because now I’m on equal level horsepower-wise with everyone else,” Greenfield said.
– – – – – – –