NASCAR desperately trying to change the narrative after a tough start to the week

It's called "controlling the news cycle."

When things don't go well in politics, lawmakers look to change the narrative so their constituents aren't facing a deluge of negative news that cripples their agenda,

NASCAR, finding itself in the middle of a controversy it would rather avoid, is desperately trying to do the same, as evident by this tweet from Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal.

NASCAR is not planning to make any further statements on anthem protests as it tries to get attention back on the track amid its playoffs.

It's been a tough month, publicity wise, for NASCAR.  It's TV ratings are down; it's losing sponsors; and there was a war of words between Richard Petty and Smithfield Foods over the Smithfield moving to Stewart-Haas.

Now, NASCAR  has been forced to confront the national anthem controversy by releasing a statement that supports peaceful protests.

The statement, reported by ESPN, echos Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s position and supports the right to peaceful protest.

"Sports are a unifying influence in our society, bringing people of differing backgrounds and beliefs together. Our respect for the national anthem has always been a hallmark of our pre-race events. Thanks to the sacrifices of many, we live in a country of unparalleled freedoms and countless liberties, including the right to peacefully express one's opinion."

But it also goes against Richard Petty, who said he said he would fire any employee who kneeled during the anthem,  and Richard Childress, who made a very strong statement regarding what he would do if someone on his team decided to kneel for the anthem, and he didn't mince words before Sunday's race at New Hampshire.

"Get you a ride on a Greyhound bus when the national anthem is over," Childress said. "Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America."

NASCAR wants to get away from all of this -- fast -- and get focused on the track..