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NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt Jr., support removal of Confederate flag

Dale Earnhardt Jr. looks on during practice, Friday, May 29, 2015, for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. looks on during practice, Friday, May 29, 2015, for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. AP Photo/Nick Wass

Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s most popular driver, says the Confederate flag is “offensive to an entire race” and should be removed from the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse.

Earnhardt Jr.’s comments Friday followed an announcement NASCAR made this week backing South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove the flag from the Statehouse grounds. NASCAR also noted that it bars the flag symbol in any official NASCAR capacity. Earnhardt backed NASCAR’s position when asked about the issue before practice at Sonoma Raceway.

READ MORE: As South Carolina honours church victims, Alabama lowers its flags

Earnhardt said that if the flag is “offensive to an entire race, it really does nothing for anybody to be there flying.”

“It belongs in the history books, that’s about it,” he said.

Teammate Jeff Gordon has also long prohibited any merchandise that uses the Confederate flag symbol.

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The suspect in the fatal shooting of a pastor and eight parishioners of a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, last week posed with the rebel battle flag before the attack. His use of the flag as a symbol of hate has prompted a reappraisal of the role such symbols play in the South.

Georgia recently stopped issuing a specialty license plate featuring two Confederate battle flags, and ordered that changes be made to the design.