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Walking on the moon? Why one NASCAR driver a true non-believer

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Bob Pockrass, Special for USA TODAY
Published 4:02 p.m. ET July 20, 2019

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USA TODAY

LOUDON, New Hampshire – It is well known in the NASCAR garage that veteran driver Ryan Newman isn’t a big believer when it comes to the moon landing.

So what does he think this weekend as many celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing?

“I haven’t paid attention,” Newman said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “Is it really the 50th anniversary? Or is it the 49th?”

According to a C-SPAN/Ipsos poll released earlier this month, 6 percent of Americans believe the moon landing was staged, including 11 percent of millennials. So in the 37-driver starting lineup Sunday, statistics indicate there likely is a denier in the field.

“I’m not a denier, I just don’t know, I don’t believe it’s true,” Newman said. “I don’t have proof to believe it’s true. I can’t go off a picture or a video or whatever stage they were on. They were just trying to beat the Russians to a good photo opp.”

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Many other NASCAR drivers spoken to this weekend believe it, some reiterating what they told For The Win in February when several drivers were polled.

“I saw some really good stuff and it looks great and makes a lot of sense,” Brad Keselowski said after winning the pole for the race. “It’s cool but I’m not going to put my head on the line. I know from the little bit of experience I have with the government, I would be completely shocked if they were able to pull that off as a hoax.”

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Austin Dillon doesn’t have any doubts.

“I’m a believer we landed on the moon,” he said. “I feel like conspiracy theorists are those people that constantly cry wolf and the first time they hear something that wasn’t true, they’re like, ‘I told you so.’

“I’m not a big fan of ‘I told you so.’ If you throw a thousand darts, you might hit one every now and then in the bull’s-eye.”

Even with so much attention on the Apollo 11 mission this week, Ryan Blaney didn’t change his mind. He has had other things (such as racing) to worry about. And his mind, when thinking about space, thought about something else.

“I think I said the last time I [was asked], I think we landed on the moon but not when they say we did,” Blaney said. “I haven’t really looked too much into it. There is not much up there but rocks, which is pretty cool. I think the Area 51 thing is interesting.”

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Blaney was referencing the possible storming of the Area 51 portion of Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada to see if there is evidence of alien life.

“I don’t think there is anything there,” Blaney said. “It would be hilarious if they’re like, ‘Yeah, come in.’ And there’s nothing there and it’s like, ‘Yeah, we do training here.’ ”

Ryan Preece, a rookie on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit, was caught a little off-guard by the question amid a weekend during which he is competing in two styles of race cars.

“What does Ryan Newman say?” he said. “He doesn’t believe it. … I want to be opposite of him. I want to say it happened.”

Newman’s response to Preece choosing to be opposite of him?

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“That’s good,” Newman said. “It gives him a chance to be wrong.”

Bob Pockrass is aFox SportsNASCAR reporter. Follow him@bobpockrass.

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