CONCORD, N.C. – This weekend, cars across the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be adorned with tributes for Memorial Day weekend.

That includes all four Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets, two of which will sport patriotic paint schemes.

It’s all part of the fifth annual NASCAR: An American Salute initiative. It marks the industry’s collective expression of reverence, respect and gratitude for those who have served and continue to defend our nation today.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive an American flag-inspired scheme that he worked together with Nationwide to design, and Jimmie Johnson will pilot a special red, white and blue Lowe’s paint scheme, as Lowe’s has a long history of supporting the military.

Currently, Lowe’s has more than 14,000 veterans, active military and Guard/Reserve employees, and Nationwide recently announced that it has hired 1,000 veterans in the past four years.

But beyond the paint schemes, fans will notice the nameplates atop each car’s windshield have been replaced. Instead of driver names, they will feature the names of fallen soldiers.

Marine Lance Corporal Eric Levi Ward from Redmond, Washington, will be honored on the windshield of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS this weekend at the Charlotte. Born Aug. 17, 1990, Ward decided to join the Marines in 10th grade. After high school graduation, he left for Parris Island, South Carolina, to attend boot camp in July 2008. Based out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Ward was part of the 2nd Marine 2nd Battalion as a top gunner and left for Afghanistan in October 2009. Unfortunately, Ward was killed Feb. 21, 2010, when he needed to get out of his vehicle and help secure the area, he stepped on an IED and was killed instantly.

Gunnery Sergeant Justin Robert Martone will be honored on the windshield of Chase Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet SS this weekend. In 1993, Martone, a Virginia native, joined the Marines, fulfilling his lifelong dream. He quickly worked his way up through the ranks driven by his determination to serve our country. In 1998 he reported to explosive ordinance disposal school and in turn became a member of an elite team of Marines whose job it was to dismantle explosives leading a team of seven. Martone died on March 7, 2006, in a roadside bomb explosion in Iraq. This weekend, Elliott will ride with his name on board the No. 24 Chevrolet while also hosting the Martone family. Justin Martone and Elliott likely would have had a lot to talk about as they both shared a love of flying – each having earned their private pilot’s license – among other shared outdoor interests.

“I think it’s been a cool honor to have Justin’s family at the race this weekend and to have his name on our car,” Elliott said. “What guys like him do for our country is far more important than anything we do at the race track each week and it allows us to go and do what we love to do. We certainly appreciate their efforts and sacrifices overseas to fight for our freedom. It means a lot.”

Instead of Johnson’s name on the windshield for the 600-mile Memorial Day weekend event, his name has been replaced with Army Sergeant First Class Kyle B. Wehrly. Werhly served in the Illinois National Guard from 1995 until his untimely death in Ashraf, Iraq, on Nov. 3, 2005. He was the recipient of the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal and the Army Good Conduct Medal among many others. During his time in the military he also worked at Lowe's Store No. 92 in Galesburg, Illinois. Werhly is survived by his wife Janet, his daughter Kylee and his parents, who will all be in attendance this weekend.

“I’m so honored to have SFG Werhly’s name on our Lowe’s Chevrolet,” Johnson said. “It gives us that much more incentive to contend for a win to honor the men and women serving our country. Every time I see a soldier at the track, I thank them for their service. Without their bravery we wouldn’t have the freedom to do what we love.”

Perhaps the most notable feature of Earnhardt’s Nationwide Stars & Stripes paint scheme will be seen on the No. 88 Chevy’s windshield, as the space that typically features the driver’s name will be replaced with the name of Lance Corporal Aaron Reed. Reed, a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, was a member of Lima Company and was killed in action on Aug. 3, 2005, in Barwanah, Iraq. Earnhardt and Nationwide have invited Lance Corporal Reed’s mother, aunt and sister to attend the race as their guests. In addition, Travis Williams, the only surviving member of Aaron’s squad, will join Nationwide and the Reed family at the race. Lance Corporal Reed’s family has set up a scholarship fund in his honor. Over the last 10 years, 47 $1,000 scholarships have been awarded to students from Aaron’s High School – Southeastern – in Lancaster, Ohio. Donations can be sent to: The LCpl Aaron Reed Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Southeastern Local Schools, 2003 Lancaster Rd., Chillicothe, OH 45601.

“NASCAR has always had a close relationship with the military of our country, and honors a family weekly who has lost someone,” Earnhardt said. “We always have service men and women out to the track as guests. That’s always been an important addition to the weekend. I like that we ramp it up for this particular weekend.

“It’ll be great to meet Lance Corporal Aaron Reed’s family and the other member of his squad. That’ll be an experience that I probably won’t forget – it will be pretty weighted. I’m looking forward to it.”