Earnhardt, who missed half of last season because of a concussion, said his reply was motivated by “compassion,” not politics.
“I felt like I wanted to show him some compassion and I looked at his profile and saw he was a NASCAR fan; I just felt like reaching out,” he told reporters in Arizona, where he was making a test drive at Phoenix International Speedway. “I wasn’t trying to inject into a political conversation — I wasn’t trying to attempt to get a bunch of attention there …
“It just really is very very interesting what’s going on in the world considering all the research I did on my family tree. It’s just incredible and I read a lot of news. Try to stay on top every day of current events and not that I’m an expert or understand everything that’s happening in the world or has been going on but it just — I don’t know how I ran across that tweet, but it felt that guy needed somebody — he needed some compassion. Not that I understand what it feels like to be in that position but I certainly felt bad for the guy.”
Earnhardt, who has almost 2 million followers on the social media platform, has 13 times been voted his sport’s most popular driver and his feelings are rooted in a recent interest in genealogy. Earnhardt, who began exploring how his family came to America and its roots here in 2012, proposed to his wife on a 2015 trip to Germany to research the family’s roots. He proposed in a Lutheran church in which his ancestors, who pronounced and spelled Earnhardt with variations, had worshiped.
“I’ve got some specific areas narrowed down I want to go see and some buildings I want to go see that I know my family was somewhat connected to,” Earnhardt told USA Today in 2015. “They left Germany in 1744, so all this stuff we’re going to see or get close to is more than 300 years old.”
Earnhardt’s tweet about Trump’s ban generated a conversation of its own, with many replying to him directly.