TALLADEGA, Ala. – Austin Wayne Self will carry a noticeable message on his truck Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.
Self’s No. 22 is an endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his running mate, Mike Pence. The Toyota is decked out in “Trump/Pence 2016” logos as well as Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
For Self, it’s his way of reminding everyone about the importance of voting in the upcoming Nov. 8 election.
“There’s no endorsements, no money coming in,” Self told NBC Sports about the truck’s logos. “It was between me, my father (who owns the truck), and the race team. I think it’s a really important election, probably the most important one we’ve seen in a long time, so that was really the main goal. Putting Trump on the truck was our opinion, that’s who we support. A lot of people agree with that, some people don’t, but at the end of the day, it’s been getting a lot of attention and it’s been fun to watch. And I think on both sides it’s made them realize how important it is to vote.”
Self is the latest driver to endorse Trump. In March, NASCAR CEO Brian France faced backlash after appearing and endorsing Trump at a rally in Georiga. He was joined by Bill and Chase Elliott, Ryan Newman, and David Ragan.
Self’s team has gone all out with their endorsement. Special fan autograph cards were made and there are plans to turn the truck into a die-cast collectible.
There have been numerous posts on social media about the logos, and Self will appear on “Fox & Friends” Saturday morning to discuss the truck. He’s also heard all of the positive and negative feedback, which he says doesn’t bother him because he respects the differing opinions.
“That’s the country we live in, we can speak up with our opinions,” he said. “I’ve definitely seen a lot about (the truck). I’ve seen some negative stuff but it doesn’t hurt my feelings at all; I enjoy seeing that. It kind of humbles me a little bit that they feel free to express their opinion.”
Self hopes this weekend will have a lasting effect.
“I think it’s opened up doors for me to express myself and what I stand for,” Self said. “It’s been exciting and, hopefully, it creates new opportunities for me because I’ve definitely enjoyed this.”