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Viral photo shows NASCAR drivers ‘kissing the bricks,’ not doing a Muslim prayer

June 15, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: NASCAR, which recently banned the Confederate flag at its events, is now forcing its drivers to engage in Muslim prayer.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. A photo circulating with this bogus claim shows NASCAR drivers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway taking part in a longstanding tradition called “kissing the bricks.”

THE FACTS: A Facebook user’s post showing a row of NASCAR drivers “kissing the bricks” in Indianapolis used a false caption to rack up more than 140,000 views over the weekend.

“So NASCAR bans the confederate flag but FORCES all their drivers to do Muslim prayer?” the post read. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. Unacceptable!!”

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NASCAR has been the target of heavy praise and some disdain in the past week since it announced it would ban the Confederate flag from its events and properties, citing a need to provide a more “welcoming and inclusive” environment for its fans.

But the auto racing association has not asked its athletes to participate in a Muslim prayer, despite a Facebook user’s post claiming it did. While some people commenting on the post saw it as satire or a joke, others did not.

The photo, which went viral on social media, actually shows drivers participating in a well-known NASCAR tradition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Yard of Bricks. It was started by driver Dale Jarrett in 1996.

After Jarrett won the Brickyard 400 race, he and his crew walked out to the finish line, knelt and kissed the yard-length section of bricks on the track. Since then, winners of the Indianapolis 500, the Brickyard 400 and other races have done the same.

A reverse image search reveals the photo that went viral over the weekend was taken in July 2016, when Kyle Busch won the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 race at the track.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: https://www.facebook.com/help/1952307158131536