Earnhardt Jr. breaks with NASCAR; supports peaceful protests

BY GEORGE DIAZ
ORLANDO SENTINEL/TNS

NASCAR dare fire Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

NASCAR’s favorite son didn’t double-dare NASCAR officials to do so, but he certainly went against the sport’s traditional values on peaceful protests in the wake of the national anthem thunderstorm engulfing the nation.

Tweeted Junior: “All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests … Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable-JFK.”

Firing threat
That certainly doesn’t fit in with the rigid mindset of the “stick to sports” theme in the NASCAR garage. Two well-known and respected owners, owners — Richard Childress and Richard Petty — told the Associated Press that anyone who would protest during the National Anthem would be fired.

NASCAR seemed to split hairs in an official statement issued on Monday, saying: “Sports are a unifying influence in our society, bringing people of differing backgrounds and beliefs together.

It continued, “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.”

Most popular driver
Earnhardt is basically in a ‘what me worry?’ mode anyway. He is retiring from full-time Cup racing this season mostly because of multiple concussions sustained over the years.

He’s been voted the most popular driver in the sport 14 consecutive years. But he’s always been his own man who doesn’t quite fit in with NASCAR’s conservative-leaning culture.

On travel ban
When President Donald Trump issued a Muslim travel ban in January, Earnhardt also stepped into the fray on Twitter.

“My fam immigrated from Germany in 1700s escaping religious persecution. America is created by immigrants.”

NASCAR’s base will likely reject Earnhardt Jr.’s sentiments on the anthem.

Their POV is more in line with what driver Brad Keselowski tweeted:

“I can get behind trying to make the world a better place, Can’t get behind putting down others; kneeling clearly does both.”

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