NASCAR has been sticking it to its southern fans – and competitors – who made the sport great for years.

Names like Earnhardt and Richard Petty aren’t just sports icons – they’re southern heroes.

And now NASCAR announced their plan to further alienate their proud fan base by taking a knee to Black Lives Matter.

Virtue signaling is all the rage these days.

Racer Bubba Wallace – NASCAR’s only African American racer at the moment – received enormous pressure from leftists and Black Lives Matter activists for refusing to kneel for the anthem when Kaepernick kicked off the anti-American anthem protests a few years back in the NFL.

At the time, he admitted he doesn’t find the rebel flag objectionable, but in an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon, caved to pressure and called on NASCAR to get rid of the rebel flag at races.

“There’s going to be a lot of angry people that carry those flags proudly but it’s time for change,” he said. “We have to change that, and I encourage NASCAR — we will have those conversations to remove those flags.”

Bubba’s not wrong there’s going to be a lot of angry people.

Fans fly the rebel flag for southern pride – celebrating a sport that has been distinctly southern from its inception. Not out of some secret animosity toward people of color. Dixie and moonshine are the roots racing grows out of.

In the past, it wouldn’t be uncommon at all to see Blacks wearing rebel flags at NASCAR tracks – so any suggestion that it’s offensive to true NASCAR fans runs contrary to the evidence.

In fact, NASCAR once tried to have a rebel flag exchange for an American flag at Daytona – it absolutely flopped – by late afternoon on the first day of the race weekend, not one person had traded in their flag.

In reality, Bubba’s call for NASCAR to ban the rebel flag was just an effort to reinvent himself as an activist racer, in search of a new corporate sponsor after losing his when he rage-quit an iRacing event earlier this year.

He recently sported an “I can’t breathe” shirt during the pre-race ceremony in Atlanta and is racing a “#BlackLivesMatter” car at Martinsville.

Clearly he’s angling for a “woke” liberal sponsor like anti-gun Dick’s Sporting Goods or Nike to back him.

We’ll see if it works out for him now that NASCAR has officially announced the ban of the stars and bars from its race tracks going forward.

This is a move NASCAR’s corporate sponsors have wanted for years. ESPN devoted more coverage to NASCAR than they ever have, as the liberal media gleefully reported the news.

But with viewership and attendance already plummeting, NASCAR’s decision could prove fatal to the once beloved southern sport.