Jimmie Johnson becomes latest driver to issue strong statement on anthem protests


Count Jimmie Johnson among those who believes in peaceful protest.

Johnson, the seven-time champion, said he understands who athletes would protest, and he respects that right. At the same time, he wants people to understand that he will exercise his right and stand during the anthem

"I'm one that believes that social injustice and racism are absolutely unacceptable," Johnson said in remarks reported by Motorsport.com "I also believe that we all have freedom of speech. I do support peaceful protest. Through my upbringing and my childhood, I had grandfathers that served (in the military). My grandmother served. My brother-in-law served and lost his life serving our country -- helping others that served our country.

"So, I choose to stand. And I will stand.... We can debate the gray areas of the First Amendment and all work up our opinions. I have mine. I stated mine. I believe in peaceful protests -- and I choose to stand."

He joins Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski who have issued similar statements. NASCAR, in a statement, has also supported the right to peaceful protest.