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Dale Earnhardt Jr.
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks during a press conference at Bristol Motor Speedway Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Bristol, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. supported anthem protests after NASCAR owners discouraged them


Updated September 25, 2017 10:15 AM EDT

After some NASCAR owners discouraged NFL-style national anthem protests, one of the sport's most popular drivers took to Twitter to show support for those demonstrating.

"All Americans R granted rights 2 peaceful protests," Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted Monday. "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable -JFK."

Despite missing half of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series due to injury, Earnhardt -- son of the late NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt -- won the National Motorsports Press Association Sprint Most Popular Driver award for the 14th consecutive year.

President Trump tweeted early Monday that he was "so proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans" after it appeared that no drivers, crew members or fans protested the national anthem before Sunday's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

"They won't put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag -- they said it loud and clear!" Trump tweeted.

More than 200 National Football League (NFL) players protested on Sunday following the president's comments and tweets suggesting that players who protest the anthem should be fired.

Some players knelt, others sat, and still others stood and locked arms. Three teams stayed off the field entirely as the anthem played.

Several NASCAR owners and team executives had discouraged anthem protests.

"Anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it," said Richard Childress, who was Dale Earnhardt's longtime team owner. "This is America."

Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty said "You're right" when asked whether an anthem protester at Richard Petty Motorsports would be fired.

"Anybody that don't stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period," Petty said. "What got 'em where they're at? The United States."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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