Dale Earnhardt Jr. clarifies where he stands on anthem demonstrations
PresidentÂ Donald Trump said Monday he was "so proud of NASCAR" for its stance on protests during the national anthem after team owners and NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Childress and Richard PettyÂ said over the weekend they would fire employees who protested during the anthem â€” as Trump has insisted NFL teams do with their own players.
On Monday, Dale Earnhardt Jr.Â sent out a tweet saying all Americans haveÂ the right to stage peaceful protests, citingÂ former President John F. Kennedy.Â
NASCAR's most popular driver said WednesdayÂ felt he needed to speak up on the anthem debate but has no intentions of a demonstration, saying "I stand for the flag during the national anthem, always have, always will."
Here is Earnhardt's full quote on the anthem topic from hisÂ weekly podcast:
â€œI kept seeing a lot of negativity about NASCAR on social media. Itâ€™s just the same tired stigma that weâ€™ve dealt with for many, many years. So, I didnâ€™t feel like that Richardâ€™s comments and Richard Pettyâ€™s comments were the way the entire sport felt. I think that Richard was talking for himself andÂ through North Carolina law they have the rightÂ to do the things that they would do.
â€œThey have the right to their opinion. I just didnâ€™t want anyone speaking for me. I felt like that you could assume that those were my own personal feelings as well. I wanted to make that clear.
â€œWith that said, I stand for the flag during the national anthem, always have, always will. We have an incredibly large military presence at our races. We go above and beyond to show our patriotism and what it means to be Americans and how proud we are of that and how proud we are of the flag and what it stands for.
â€œNo surprise to me everyone at the track stood and addressed the flag during the anthem, which I think will continue. But I also understand that the man next to me, if he wants to do something different, thatâ€™s his right. I might not agree with everything somebody does, but itâ€™s their right to have that opportunity to do that. I canâ€™t take that away from them, and I donâ€™t want them taking it away from me.â€™â€™
Fellow NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski, who is known for flying the American flag after race wins, said late Tuesday, "please donâ€™t believe that when we stand itâ€™s out of disrespect to civil rights; it is and always will be out of respect and love for our [country]."Â