MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued to express interest in become a part owner of the Panthers on Tuesday.

The team was put up for sale after the current owner, Jerry Richardson, was accused of sexual harassment and using a racial slur in referring to a team employee.

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Earnhardt made his comments after a Mooresville Chamber of Commerce luncheon where he was presented with the state’s highest civilian award by Governor Roy Cooper.

Cooper praised Earnhardt and his sister, Kelley, for their commitment to the community.

Later, Earnhardt told WCNC's Rad Berky commitment to community is a big part of his interest in buying into the Panthers and keeping them in Charlotte.

“It is a bit of a badge on honor, you know, that the Panthers are here, a team in the NFL, and I think it does so much for the city and raises the profile of the city,” Earnhardt said.

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Marcus Smith and his father Bruton Smith, who operate the Charlotte Motor Speedway, have expressed interest in a group of potential owners being put together by Felix Sabates, a minority owner of the Hornets basketball team.

Earnhardt said he knows and trusts Marcus Smith.

“Should he have any kind of involvement in that group, then there would be some interest for me,” he said.

Earnhardt downplayed a report by WCNC that NASCAR’s Brian France was part of the Sabates group, saying he did not believe it was true.

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Earnhardt admitted he’s always been a Redskins fan but cares deeply about the future of the Panthers and the team’s ties to Charlotte.

“I’d do anything that’s going to help the city and the community, and I feel like keeping the Panthers here and keeping them successful is part of that.”

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