When three of Stewart-Haas Racing’s NASCAR Cup Series drivers fire their engines for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, each of their racecars will bear on their windshields the name of a U.S. Army soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in Afghanistan.
Staff Sergeant Kristofferson Lorenzo, Private First Class William Blevins and Private First Class Andrew Krippner were among the soldiers killed on May 23, 2011, when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in the country’s eastern Kunar province.
Staff Sgt. Lorenzo, who was from Chula Vista, Calif. and on his third deployment when he was killed, will have his name and rank carried by 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford Mustang during the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 10, Aric Almirola, will carry the name of Pfc. Blevins and Almirola’s teammate Clint Bowyer, in the No. 14, will have the name of Pfc. Krippner adorned on his windshield header.
The special tribute – 600 Miles of Remembrance – has become an annual tradition during the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend. All 40 cars entering the NASCAR Cup Series’ longest race on the schedule will honor a service member who died in service to the U.S. Armed Forces.
For Stewart-Haas Racing, Sunday’s tribute will have special meaning for team fabricator Matthew Ridgway, a U.S. Army veteran. While Ridgway did not know the three men personally, he would later serve in the same battalion as the fallen soldiers honored on the team’s cars.
Stewart-Haas Racing is not alone among race teams in having a deep, personal connection to the service member their cars are honoring.
Kurt Busch and the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet will carry the name of U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Philip Grieser on the windshield during Sunday’s race. Grieser was the chief of Seabee team 1013 and was killed in a base attack in 1969 while serving in the Vietnam War. His son, Doug Newell, is an electrician for Chip Ganassi Racing.
With Sunday’s race to run without fans or special guests in attendance, each of the families honored as part of 600 Miles of Remembrance on Sunday will receive an acrylic replica of the racecar header with the fallen service member’s name and rank from NASCAR and Coca-Cola. Additionally, Coca-Cola is hosting a private pre-race virtual concert by country artist Justin Moore for Gold Star Families.
Charlotte Motor Speedway will continue its long-standing tradition of military tributes in recognition of Memorial Day Weekend. In addition to the pre-race military flyover, the race broadcast on FOX will capture a moment of silence at the conclusion of Stage 2, when all cars will stop on pit road to honor to the fallen.
Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 will be broadcast on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 6 p.m. ET.
TIL. NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING. ON MY REDNECK!