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Daytona International Speedway offers Confederate flag swap to NASCAR fans

Raceway to offer American flag to patrons

Local 6 News at 6:00p
Local 6 News at 6:00p

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – 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.

"There's nothing more patriotic than NASCAR racing on the high banks of Daytona. The American flag is the flag we really need to celebrate this weekend," said Joie Chitwood, president of the International Speedway.

Daytona President Joie Chitwood said Wednesday, and reiterated Thursday, 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.

"So fans who would like to fly the American flag, we'll trade with you with whatever flag you have.  We want you to celebrate that flag this weekend, that's what important," Chitwood said. "We have to look at where that other flag goes, it has no 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. Chitwood says the flag exchange program is a good compromise for the Coke Zero 400 event since fans purchased tickets before discussions about completely banning the rebel flag came up.

NASCAR has taken a strong stance against the flag since nine black churchgoers were slain in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17. The suspect in the case, Dylann Roof, embraced Confederate symbols before the attack.

Chitwood said Speedway officials plan to revisit its policy on Confederate flags.

"I think there's going to be a lot of conversation moving forward. We need to be thoughtful about any process or policy that we come up with," said Chitwood.