Kyle Busch will begin his assault on a second consecutive Coca-Cola 600victory in a patriotic No. 18 M&Ms Toyota Camry that the veteran driver unveiled in a special event on Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. As a prelude to the historic 60th running of the iconic Coca-Cola 600 on May 26 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Busch revealed the look for his Toyota in addition to meeting Dona and Gene Griffin, the parents of fallen Army Sgt. Dale Griffin.
Griffin, who lost his life in 2009 during Operation Enduring Freedom, will be honored by having his name adorn Busch’s windshield as part of NASCAR’s 600 Miles of Remembrance program throughout the Coca-Cola 600 race weekend.
“It means a lot,” Busch said. “Having the opportunity to work with NASCAR and NASCAR Salutes to honor and remember our fallen who have given their lives to give us our freedom. It means a lot to have our Memorial Day weekend race, the Coca-Cola 600, at Charlotte because it’s our home and to have the opportunity to carry a fallen (military) member’s name on our race car is the ultimate honor. Being able to meet those families and spend time with them, hear their stories and hear who we’re honoring is what means so much to me and the rest of the field.”
Speedway Motorsports, Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith said the 60th Coca-Cola 600 promises to create lifelong memories for every fan through its spectacular pre-race salute to the military and the thrilling race that will follow.
“We take a lot of pride in the Coca-Cola 600 being the biggest celebration of all those who have served and who currently serve our nation’s military,” Smith said.
As part of Wednesday’s festivities – which also included a salute to Coca-Cola on National Have a Coke Day – Charlotte Motor Speedway revealed its plans for a 30-second moment of remembrance following Stage 2 of the Coca-Cola 600. Once the green-and-white checkered flag flies, cars will be bunched up and led down pit road, where their engines will be shut off as the entire crowd observes a moment of silence in honor of the fallen American soldiers who gave their lives to preserve freedom.
Gene Griffin, Sgt. Griffin’s father, said that his son’s legacy will be enhanced thanks to Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway with his name on Busch’s car and the emotional mid-race moment of remembrance.
“I’m overwhelmed,” Gene Griffin said. “I’m so thankful for everyone who’s willing to stop and remember those who paid the ultimate price. We’ve been so blessed with the relationships we’ve created here. We’ll carry this in our hearts forever.”
As part of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s and Coca-Cola’s salute to the military throughout the month of May, race fans are encouraged to use the hashtag #KnowYourMil.
Coca-Cola 600 tickets for adults start at just $49 while kids 13 and under get in for $10. Tickets, camping and upgrades for every event are available at the gates, by visiting charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets or calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).