Hamlin is typically sponsored by FedEx in what’s become the only major full-season car sponsorship in NASCAR. But the delivery company put the museum on the hood of Hamlin’s car for the Talladega race as NASCAR has moved to address racial and social injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s killing on May 25.
Hamlin even paid a visit to the Memphis museum before the race. The museum is located in the same city as FedEx’s world headquarters.
“I promised to listen, and that’s what I’m doing,” Hamlin said. “On Thursday, I had the unique pleasure of visiting the National Civil Rights Museum. To say that this was informative, humbling, eye-opening is a huge understatement.”
I promised to listen and that’s what I’m doing. Today you will see my #11 car will not carry the traditional paint scheme that you usually see. @FedEx and myself instead want to give that voice to the @NCRMuseum. Exhibit photos courtesy of the NCRM. pic.twitter.com/KJ0sKumnUT— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) June 21, 2020
After winning last week at Homestead, Hamlin is the only driver with three Cup Series wins so far in 2020.
“This is something that meant a lot for myself and FedEx,” Hamlin told Fox in a rain-delay interview. “We talked a few weeks ago, they aired a commercial about being silent and just kind of listening. And we really have spent some time thinking about how can we listen. And as you know, FedEx has given up their car before to several nonprofits to give them a voice and we thought that this was a great idea for us to give the National Civil Rights Museum the car today.”
NASCAR banned fans from flying the Confederate flag at tracks on June 10. Talladega was set to host 5,000 socially-distanced fans in the grandstands in the series’ first race weekend in the state of Alabama. Before NASCAR’s flag ban, Confederate flags were a regular site in the Talladega infield. Sunday, someone inexplicably decided it would be a good use of money to fly a plane over the track with the Confederate flag and the phrase “defund NASCAR.”
The flag ban came as part of NASCAR’s push to listen and be more active in the fight against racial injustice and systemic inequality. Bubba Wallace drove a Black Lives Matter car at Martinsville hours after the flag was officially banned and has worn shirts honoring Floyd and the movement before races.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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