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Ray Ciccarelli, NASCAR Driver From Ellicott City Who Quit In Wake Of Confederate Flag Ban, Insists 'This Was Never About The Flag'

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) -- Ray Ciccarelli, a NASCAR driver from Ellicott City, has announced his plans to retire from racing following a decision from the sport to ban Confederate flags from its properties.

In a now-deleted Facebook post, Ciccarelli called the move "political BS" and said he won't continue racing after the 2020 season ends, CBS Sports reports.

"i don't believe in kneeling during Anthem nor taken ppl right to fly what ever flag they love," he wrote, according to CBS Sports. "I could care less about the Confederate Flag but there are ppl that do and it doesn't make them a racist all you are doing is f---ing one group to cater to another and i ain't spend the money we are to participate in any political BS!!"

Reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Ciccarelli, 50, told WJZ he had been planning to retire anyway but called the controversy the straw that broke the camel's back.

"This was never about the flag," he said. While he said he does not own or fly a Confederate flag, he said other fans do and it should be their decision about whether to fly it.

He plans to issue a full statement Friday.

On Wednesday, NASCAR announced it would prohibit the Confederate flag "from all NASCAR events and properties," calling its presence "contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry."

His announcement has drawn criticism on Twitter, with some calling him a racist.

Tom Coale, the founder and host of the Elevate Maryland podcast, wrote on Twitter that, "As much as it hurts to see Ellicott City trashed alongside Ray Ciccarelli, it also provides an opportunity to consider how our community fosters and enables such attitudes."

Bubba Wallace, the sport's lone African American full-time driver, applauded NASCAR's move, and on Wednesday night he raced in a car that had Black Lives Matter on it. The paint scheme was dedicated to "promoting racial equality," Richard Petty Motorsports tweeted.

Read more from CBS News.

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