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NASCAR president denounces 'Let's Go Brandon' chant: 'We’re not happy about that'

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AVONDALE, Ariz. — NASCAR repudiated its association with "Let's go, Brandon," the political rallying cry being used on social media and at various sporting events as an insult directed at President Joe Biden.

Originating in NASCAR last month, the phrase “Let’s go, Brandon” quickly became code around the country for “[Expletive] Joe Biden.” And NASCAR president Steve Phelps isn’t thrilled about it, calling it an “unfortunate situation” during his annual state of the sport press conference ahead of Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series championship race.

At Talladega Superspeedway in early October, driver Brandon Brown won his first second-tier Xfinity Series race. During his on-track interview immediately afterward, the crowd in the grandstands was chanting. Although NBC Sports initially said the fans were chanting, “Let’s go, Brandon!” it was explicitly clear they were actually chanting, “[Expletive] Joe Biden!”

The phrase is seemingly ubiquitous now and on everything from T-shirts – including ones stylized to resemble NASCAR’s logo – to face masks to flags — some of which were flown near Phoenix Raceway, which is hosting NASCAR's championships this weekend.

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NASCAR president Steve Phelps speaks to reporters at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 5, 2021.
NASCAR president Steve Phelps speaks to reporters at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 5, 2021.

“I feel for Brandon,” Phelps said. “I think unfortunately it speaks to the state of where we are as a country. We do not want to associate ourselves with politics, the left or the right. We obviously have and we’ve always had, as a sport, tremendous respect for the office of the president — no matter who is sitting. …

“Do we like the fact that it kind of started with NASCAR and then is gaining ground elsewhere? No, we’re not happy about that. But we will continue to make sure that we have respect for the office of the president.”

Phelps also said NASCAR will pursue action against any illegal use of its trademarks on merchandise boasting the slogan. Retired baseball star Lenny Dykstra posted a photo on Twitter this week of a man eating breakfast at a New Jersey hotel wearing a black “Let's go, Brandon” shirt alongside NASCAR's trademarked color bars.

“We will pursue whoever (is using logos) and get that stuff,” Phelps said. “That's not OK. It's not OK that you're using our trademarks illegally."

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Let's Go Brandon: NASCAR president denounces coded Joe Biden chant