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NASCAR honors Soldiers at Kansas Speedway

By Staff Sgt. Bernhard Lashleyleidner | 1ST ABCT PUBLIC AFFAIRS | June 11, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – NASCAR representatives honored the Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard, Soldiers of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, and D-Day veteran, retired 1st Sgt. Joseph Crandall, during the Troops to the Track event May 9 at the Kansas Speedway.

The NASCAR Troops to the Track initiative is a partnership between Bank of America, NASCAR and the Armed Forces Foundation.

Daniel Klenetsky, manager of public and government affairs for NASCAR, said the program spans the entire racing season and honors services members from all five branches of the armed forces and is a way for NASCAR drivers, racing teams and fans to pay respect to those dedicated men and women serving the nation.

Klenetsky said the program runs at 25 race tracks across the United States and provides free tickets to more than 300 active-duty troops, wounded warriors, veterans and military family members.

“This has become a signature initiative to recognize the dedication and efforts of our service members,” Klenetsky said. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the sacrifices of the brave men and women.”

Soldiers were given access to walk around the pit road, tour racing team garages, meet with drivers and visit a NASCAR suite to view the race and be recognized by drivers during the crew chief meeting.

“I wasn’t expecting anything like this,” said Spc. Benjamin Bowman, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Div. “To have all the people clapping and thanking me for serving while walking down the red carpet for the drivers meet-and-greet was overwhelming.”

Bowman said this was one of the best experiences of his life and he could not express how happy he was to be chosen to attend the event.

Soldiers also spoke with several drivers during the pit road visit.

Carl Edwards, driver with Joe Gibbs Racing Team, talked to Soldiers about military life and their experiences while deployed.

He also answered questions about what it was like to drive at speeds exceeding 190 mph.

Edwards and Staff Sgt. Scott McCartney, tank commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st ABCT, 1st Inf. Div., talked extensively about differences in engines on a tank and those of a race car.

“I’ve attended several NASCAR events in the past,” McCartney said. “Being able to tour the garages and talk with the drivers is an experience that I will never forget.”

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