CONCORD, N.C. – As the NASCAR Cup Series heads back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for 600 miles this Sunday, the sport will pay tribute to the Memorial Day weekend.
As part of NASCAR’s 600 Miles of Remembrance program, all 40 drivers will honor United States Armed Forces members who have fallen in service for their country.
The four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets will feature the names of service members atop the windshields.
“NASCAR has always had a close relationship with the military of our country, and always has service men and women out to the track as guests,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “That’s always been an important addition to the weekend. I like that we ramp it up for this particular weekend.”
Staff Sergeant Joshua R. Hager from Denver, Colorado, will be honored on the windshield of Kasey Kahne's No. 5 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Charlotte. Hager was born on June 20, 1977, and enlisted in the Army in 1998. He received numerous awards including Audie Murphy, a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. While serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Hager was killed by an IED on Feb. 23, 2007.
Hager’s father, Kris, will be in attendance at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend.
Chase Elliott's windshield will bear the name of U.S. Army Captain Todd Tyler Christmas as part of the initiative. Christmas was born March 8, 1978, in Las Vegas, New Mexico. He graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute and Texas A&M University, where he was the distinguished military graduate in August 2001. After attending the United States Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was awarded the parachutists badge, he joined the 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment. While in the battalion, Christmas served as an avenger platoon leader, linebacker platoon leader and battery executive officer while deployed in support of Iraqi Freedom. In June 2004, he was selected to serve as the aide de camp for Brigadier General Charles Allen, the assistant division commander (Support). Christmas passed away on Nov. 29, 2004 – he was traveling in a Blackhawk helicopter when it collided with a guy wire near Waco, Texas, killing all aboard.
Christmas’ parents, Becky and Brad, will both be in attendance this weekend at Charlotte.
The No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS will carry the name of fallen Army Paratrooper SPC Michael Rodriguez. Last week, Jimmie Johnson made the trek to Fort Bragg near Fayetteville, North Carolina, to unveil a special paint scheme as well as meet the family of SPC Rodriguez. A native of Sanford, North Carolina, and assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, SPC Rodriguez was 20 when he was killed on April 23, 2007, while serving his country in Iraq. For his bravery and sacrifice, SPC Rodriguez earned the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge and Good Conduct Medals.
“This weekend is special to me for so many reasons,” Johnson said. “To have SPC Rodriguez’s name on the car, having spent time with his family last week, they will be at the race with us so I want to make them proud. Being at Fort Bragg for the car unveil was a reminder that life is so precious and the men and women who fight for our freedom are true heroes.”
Perhaps the most notable feature of the Nationwide Patriotic paint scheme will be seen on the No. 88 Chevy’s windshield, as the space that typically features the series sponsor will be replaced with the name of Private First Class James McClamrock. PFC McClamrock, who hailed from Huntersville, North Carolina, was killed by an insurgent at Balad Air Base in Iraq on Sept. 7, 2010, while preparing to leave for a mission.
Earnhardt and Nationwide have invited PFC McClamrock’s family, including his mother Susan, to attend the race as their guests. The McClamrock family are friends of a few of Nationwide’s Military Associate Resource Group (MARG) members in Raleigh, North Carolina. When Nationwide heard PFC’s James McClamrock’s story, the Nationwide MARG thought the 600 Miles of Remembrance program would be a perfect way to remember his sacrifice.
“It’ll be great to meet PFC McClamrock’s family,” Earnhardt said. “That’s usually a pretty emotional experience and I’m looking forward to it.”