President Donald Trump appeared to criticize the NFL during a White House speech honoring NASCAR driver Martin Truex Jr.'s 2017 championship season.

Truex, 37, won eight total races during the season, qualified for the "chase" playoff schedule and won the final race at Homestead which earned him the Monster Energy Cup Series title.

Trump praised Truex, his longtime partner Sherry Pollex and crew chief Cole Pearn on their season that culminated with the Ocean County, N.J. native taking home the trophy.

Without mentioning the league by name, Trump said Truex and NASCAR CEO Brian France should be proud that fans "do indeed stand for the playing of our national anthem."


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Trump said he was advised not to mention that fact for fear of being "controversial," in an apparent reference to the outcry he caused when he used coarse language to refer to NFL players who knelt in 2017.

"At every NASCAR race, you will see thousands of patriotic Americans from the grandstands to the pit stalls proudly waving our flag," he said, adding that the sport "reflects our national spirit and can-do attitude."

France publicly endorsed Trump in 2016 -- a fact Trump alluded to during his White House address.

During the campaign, France joined drivers Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman and Elliott's retired champion father Bill at a campaign rally in Valdosta, Ga. in throwing their support behind Trump.


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