DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In a show of appreciation for the United States Armed Forces, NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers will bear the names of active military units and installations on their race car windshields during Friday's Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Marine Raider Battalion and the USS New York (LPD-21) are among the military units and installations from all five branches that will replace the "XFINITY" header on NASCAR XFINITY Series cars.
NASCAR: An American Salute™ (#NASCARSalutes) is the industry's collective expression of reverence, respect and gratitude for those who have served and continue to defend the United States today. Last month, NASCAR together with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race teams honored 40 fallen service members with 600 Miles of Remembrance, a similar tribute during Memorial Day Weekend.
"NASCAR's long-standing tradition of honoring the U.S. Armed Forces will never waver -- it is woven into the fabric of our sport," said Brent Dewar, chief operating officer, NASCAR. "We have a unique opportunity with the NASCAR XFINITY Series to pay tribute to the military units and bases integral to preserving our country's freedom."
Several NASCAR XFINITY Series teams have personal or direct connections to the units displayed on their race cars. Driver Brendan Gaughan's windshield will read "23RD STS," representing the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron (U.S. Air Force) from Hurlburt Field in Fort Walton, Florida. Gaughan is one of a handful of civilians recognized as an Honorary Member of the Combat Control Association.
Elliott Sadler's windshield will be adorned with Fort Campbell to honor JR Motorsports employee Lee Langley, who served for six years at the Army base as an infantry team leader in the 101st Airborne Division. Ty Dillon and Brandon Jones both work with Hope 4 Warriors and will honor 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines and 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, respectively, from Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Justin Allgaier will honor the U.S. Air Force 469th Flight Training Squadron through a personal connection, as Allgaier is friends with Major Robert Harms, one of the pilots serving in that specific unit. The squadron operates out of Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.
"I always look forward to getting a chance to pay homage those who serve our country at Daytona each year," Allgaier said. "We're thankful to Comcast for providing the space on all of our cars to support these military heroes and to NASCAR for continuing their NASCAR Salutes program. This year there's a personal tie for me as I get to display the squadron of one of my friends. We love that we're able to support our military, but a sticker or event will never be enough to truly give them all the credit they deserve for what they do."
The special windshield tribute is one of several military activities planned for the Independence Day Weekend races at Daytona International Speedway, culminating with Saturday's Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola (7:45 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
The race track will again host and recognize three recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award given to military service members, continuing a tradition dating back several years. The Medal of Honor recipients in attendance this weekend will include Staff Sergeant Ty Carter, Command Sergeant Major Gary Littrell and Captain Florent Groberg, each representing the U.S. Army.
NASCAR together with Daytona International Speedway and race teams will host hundreds of active military and veterans, and their families, during the race weekend. Among them will be the 65th Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army, nicknamed "The Bourinqueneers," a Puerto Rican regiment that was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in April.
Several active military members present for Saturday's Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola will take part in a special moment of recognition for the U.S. Armed Forces before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Pre-race activities will also feature a flyover of four F-16s from the 93rd Fighter Squadron from Homestead Air Reserve Base during the national anthem, which will be performed by the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Band from Fort Benning, Georgia. The national anthem will be performed as 200 military members unfurl a giant American flag in the infield.
Retired U.S. Air Force Sergeant Kelly Miller will be grand marshal for Friday's Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola. A Subway franchisee, Miller served as an aeromedical service specialist, responsible for the healthcare of Air Force pilots and flight crews. Retired Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Fred Gardner, also a Subway franchisee, will serve as the honorary starter. Gardner operated the Terrier missile first control system during Mediterranean tours.