NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. Explains What Will Smith Should’ve Done Instead of Slapping Chris Rock at 2022 Oscars

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

This year’s Oscars ceremony was slightly more eventful than a typical awards show. While presenting an award, Chris Rock made a joke about Academy Award nominee Will Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett, and her hair. This earned Chris Rock a brutal slap to the face from Will Smith. On live television, no less.

The moment instantly became the slap heard ’round the world, as everyone from musicians to movie stars to politicians weighed in on the situation. Some agreed with Will Smith’s actions while others said they would have handled it differently. NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr falls into the latter camp and took to his Dale Jr Download podcast to explain what Will Smith should have done.

“I wish Will (Smith) didn’t do that,” Earnhardt said. “I mean, you gotta know things are gonna get pretty serious in terms of the jokes, I wish that gets handled a little differently.”

While Dale Earnhardt Jr understands things can get heated, he wishes Will Smith would have talked it out with Chris Rock instead. “You talk to the guy afterward maybe, say, ‘Hey man, that really bothered me.’ I mean, some things can be personal and that’s okay,” Earnhardt explains. “You take it to that person and say, ‘Look man, I wish you wouldn’t go there.'”

Dale Earnhardt Jr Had a Will Smith Experience With Kyle Busch

Is Dale Earnhardt Jr wrong in his opinion on Will Smith? Probably not. That said, folks on the Internet have been talking for days since the event about how they would’ve handled it. As for Dale Jr. himself, he says he had one of those moments too in his past when he let his emotions get the best of him.

At a 2014 NASCAR race in Phoenix, Dale Jr didn’t handle a frustrating situation quite as well as he would’ve liked to. In fact, Dale Jr got so frustrated with Kyle Busch at the race that he flew off the handle entirely. In an interview on the Bussin’ With The Boys podcast, Dale Earnhardt Jr recounted the uncharacteristic reaction.

“This is Phoenix around 2014, things aren’t going well for me. I’m having a down year. A pretty frustrating year,” Earnhardt begins. “[Kyle Busch] didn’t like something about what I did so he flipped me the bird out the window in front of the net.”

Earnhardt Jr could’ve ignored it. He could have had a rational conversation with Busch. But he didn’t. Instead, “I walked up into his hauler,” Earnhardt said. “In the lounge is Kyle (Busch) and his crew chief. I said, ‘Kyle, if you ever flip me off again I’m gonna rip your head off. I’m going to kill you, beat the hell out of you.’ I said everything I could just say, in that moment. I never do that. That’s out of character for me.”