Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s perspective on race is changing, and Bubba Wallace played a role

Sporting News

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is grateful that Bubba Wallace, the lone black driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, has stepped up as a leader in a time of increased racial conflict in the United States.

"Because without him, we might not have that leadership (within NASCAR) and we might not have that guidance and the opportunity to understand, the opportunity to listen," he said Thursday night in an interview with Scott Van Pelt on ESPN's "SportsCenter."

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"You know, that's not always been there in our sport and so I don't think I can say enough how much I appreciate Bubba," Earnhardt added.

Wallace spoke with Earnhardt and Mike Davis this week for the "Dale Jr. Download" podcast, and the segment left an impression on Earnhardt. Wallace told the story of a "Driving While Black" police stop that had him fearing for his life.

"One wrong move, (and) I wouldn't be here talking to you today," Wallace said.

Earnhardt told Van Pelt that those types of stories, on top of the reactions to George Floyd's killing last week in Minneapolis, are "impacting me differently" than other racial incidents did.

"I'm listening more and really trying to understand how a black person has to think about eveything they do," Earnhardt told Van Pelt. "Black people are telling us white people how they have to go about their day in a unique way to sort of avoid things that we really just take for granted or don't even have to worry about."


Earnhardt also took part in "Blackout Tuesday," in which Twitter users were encouraged to post a black square to their timelines. After he saw how people reacted to the post, he made an even stronger statement.


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