NASCAR Salute To The Troops

Every weekend fans fill the stands at a NASCAR race wearing the different colors of the drivers in the 43-car field. But three particular colors always stand out prior to the start of the race - red, white and blue.

On Veterans Day, and during every NASCAR event, a tribute is paid to those men and women who have served and continue to serve our country through military service.

From the pre-race festivities and flyovers, to military sponsored cars there's always something going on that recognizes the branches of the Armed Forces on race day.

"NASCAR's always been proud to support the veterans of the past and the current veterans of all the branches of service," said NASCAR President Mike Helton. "Everyone at NASCAR is grateful and humbled by the sacrifices made by the women and men in our military that make our way of life possible."

Members of the Armed Forces from all over the world continue to follow the sport of NASCAR, including soldiers stationed at Joint Base Balad, which is one of the largest American military bases in Iraq.

"It's an honor for NASCAR to be involved in this Veterans Day celebration that's being held at the grounds there at Joint Base Balad," Helton said.

"NASCAR is also proud to call many members of the military NASCAR fans. We regularly hear from our troops around the world through email, regular mail and it's obvious that their passion for NASCAR is there."

Some of the cars on the Sprint Cup circuit are backed by branches of the Armed Forces.

Recently, Mark Martin competed in his final race with the U.S. Army, which sponsored the No. 01 and 8 Chevrolets for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. the past two seasons.

"I want to thank the U.S. Army for all the support of the past two years," Martin said. "It has been a real honor to represent our brave Soldiers who protect our freedom."

Next season, the U.S. Army will move over to Stewart-Haas Racing to sponsor Ryan Newman's No. 39 Chevrolet.

"We are confident that this team of Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman will demonstrate the same ethos that guides our Soldiers – putting the mission first, a refusal to accept defeat and a never quit attitude," said Maj. Gen. Montague Winfield, commanding general U.S. Army Cadet Command.

Some of the other drivers on the NASCAR circuit that currently have military affiliations are: Dale Earnhardt Jr./Landon Cassill (National Guard), Bill Elliott/Jon Wood (Air Force) and Brad Keselowski with the Navy (Nationwide). Ron Hornaday, who is looking for his fourth NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship, has also carried sponsorship from the Veterans of Foreign Wars this season.

On Monday, Petty Enterprises announced that it has extended its partnership with the Paralyzed Veterans of America through the 2009 season.

"I'm proud of the way that this program has continued to grow because this is a partnership that goes beyond racing," Richard Petty said. "Paralyzed Veterans continues to do outstanding work with America's service members and veterans in a time when they really need its help. This is the third year of our association and I look forward to many more years of working with Paralyzed Veterans both on and off of the racetrack."

Prior to the Dover Chase race, many of the NASCAR drivers, including Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle and Newman visited the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC to talk with the wounded and sign autographs.

"It's just great to come visit all the men and women that serve our country that do what they can in order to make us feel safe and to enjoy what we do on Sunday's," Busch said.

Biffle, who won the Dover race, was overwhelmed by the visit.

"A lot of them don't have legs anymore, a lot of them are missing one or more arms and never will be able to enjoy the things we get to enjoy," Biffle said. "So, for them to make that sacrifice to defend what we get to do every day is pretty incredible. And those guys, they want to go back and fight for our country again. And some of them will get to, and some won't, because of their injuries."

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