Mission accomplished. For the seventh consecutive year, ahead of the Coca-Cola 600 each Memorial Day Weekend, Charlotte Motor Speedway‘s Mission 600 set out to honor the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces by pairing Coca-Cola Racing Family and other drivers alongside units from different branches of service. This year defending Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney and fellow Coca-Cola Family Racing drivers Daniel Suárez, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, along with Chris Buescher visited military to educate the NASCAR community about the day-to-day lives of the men and women who serve. The campaign included a mix of in-person and virtual visits spanning from Korea and Arlington National Cemetery to bases in North and South Carolina.

Mission 600 serves as a prelude to Charlotte Motor Speedway‘s patriotic pre-race salute to the troops prior to the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend. With representation from all six branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, the salute embodies the patriotism and service of the nation‘s men and women in uniform.

“The Sunday before Memorial Day is the greatest day in racing, but we also want to be sure that we set the right tone and timber — that we‘re on the eve of Memorial Day, which is a very solemn holiday for us as Americans,” said Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter. “I think we‘ve come to realize as a team at Charlotte Motor Speedway that this is so much more than just putting on an event where 40 cars race for the finish line. This is about telling a story. The fact that we have these Gold Star Families who have suffered the heartbreak of losing a loved one during their service in the military — the fact that we tell the story of each of them, that we honor the military in a unique way — we showcase that to our fans who come from across the country and around the world to experience that.”

Daniel Suárez visited Fort Liberty, NC (April 17)

Suárez and his Trackhouse Racing crew chief Matt Swiderski, alongside Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter, spent the day learning about the equipment and training that members of the 82nd Airborne receive. They toured Fort Liberty in Infantry Squad Vehicles, fired an M119A3 Howitzer — a 105mm weapon that uses a six-man team — and dined with service members in Fort Liberty‘s Warrior Restaurant. The trio finished the day by participating in M4 Carbine live-fire shooting exercises aimed at testing a soldier‘s ability to calm themselves after rigorous activity.

Denny Hamlin visited virtually the 19th ESC, Korea (April 23)

Veteran NASCAR driver and team owner Denny Hamlin connected virtually with members of the U.S. Forces Command, Korea‘s 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command. Performance Racing Network’s Doug Rice emceed a wide-ranging conversation centered around the shared ideals of logistics and sustainment in the military and NASCAR. Hamlin met a variety of specialists from the 19th ESC who oversee everything from maintaining and fueling fleet vehicles to training K9s, while Maj. Javon Starnes shared insights into the vital role of the United States Forces Korea (USFK) and the ongoing joint training efforts with Republic of Korea (ROK) forces. Throughout the hour-long conversation, Hamlin and the soldiers engaged in discussions on teamwork, emphasizing the parallels between military operations and the high-stakes world of NASCAR racing.

Ryan Blaney visited Arlington National Cemetery (May 1)

Blaney joined Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith, Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter and North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson in laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, continuing an annual tradition for the defending Coca-Cola 600 race winner to kick off Military Appreciation Month each May. The group then took part in a private viewing of the cemetery‘s artifact room, met with members of the Old Guard, and visited the United States Capitol with U.S. Sens. Thom Tillis and Ted Budd.

Joey Logano visited Shaw Air Force Base (May 7)

Logano, alongside FOX Sports analyst Shannon Spake, visited with the 77th Fighter Squadron “Gamblers” at Shaw Air Force Base where they learned its history and completed a series of safety trainings before getting fitted for a flight suit, G-suit and helmet. Logano was treated to a nearly 90-minute training flight, which launched off the tarmac at more than 600 mph before executing a series of S-curves, loops, barrel rolls and simulated ground attacks. Logano and pilot Lt. Col. Daniel “Rage” Trueblood experienced up to nine times the force of gravity during the flight and refueled mid-air. For his efforts throughout the engagement, Logano earned the call sign “Left Turn” from members of the Gamblers.

Chris Buescher visited Parris Island (May 14)

Buescher, Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter and FOX Sports analyst Josh Sims, were immersed in the lives of the Marine recruits who begin their enlistment journey at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island. From standing on the famed yellow footprints to flying an F-18 simulator, participating in a live-fire competition and rappelling down a 62-foot wall, the group experienced how the Marine Corps Recruit Depot transforms young men and women through the foundations of rigorous basic training, shared legacy and a commitment to core values, preparing them to win the nation‘s battles in service to the country.

— Charlotte Motor Speedway —

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