The last weekend in May always has special meaning to Americans, for whom it is a time to remember and honor the soldiers who lost their lives while serving in the United States military.
For race fans, in particular, the weekend is uniquely special in that America’s fallen soldiers are honored in the many festivities surrounding what is widely recognized as the biggest racing weekend of the year. In the United States, the racing day starts at historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the iconic Indianapolis 500 and finishes under the lights at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway with the longest race of the Monster Energy NASCAR’s Cup Series – the Coca-Cola 600. Not only are they famous and historic racing events, but both events host many active duty military and both have traditions that honor soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
To honor those who have been lost this Memorial Day weekend, Kyle Busch will sport a special Red, White and Blue M&M’S scheme on his No. 18 Toyota Camry promoting M&M’S partnership with Operation Gratitude and Walmart stores. For a limited time, fans can buy the Red, White and Blue M&M’S at Walmart and, during this year’s promotion, for every bag purchased by a consumer, one bag will be sent to American troops abroad. After all, M&M’S candies were created 75 years ago as rations for American troops. Fans can also show their support for our troops at Walmart.com/SayThanksWithM or by simply using #SayThanksWithM on social media.
In addition to M&M’S and its Operation Gratitude program, fallen soldiers will be honored by NASCAR with its program called “600 Miles of Remembrance,” which features the name of a fallen soldier on the windshield of each racecar in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600. Busch has the honor of displaying the name of PFC William Johnson on his M&M’S Red, White, and Blue Toyota. PFC Johnson, a native of Oxford, North Carolina, lost his life in Iraq in 2007.
Busch will look to honor PFC Johnson and all fallen soldiers with a strong run, and he’ll be heading into the 12th points race of the season Sunday as the winner of last weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race. The Las Vegas native used a bold move on the final restart to lead the last 10 laps to bring home his first All-Star win in his 12th try, the largest number of starts before an All-Star Race win. The previous record was held by Tony Stewart with 11 All-Star starts before his win in 2009.
Busch’s All-Star win also was his first Cup Series win of any kind at the 1.5-mile Charlotte oval. Ever since his childhood in Las Vegas, some of Busch’s favorite race-watching memories came during Charlotte’s traditional Coca-Cola 600 and All-Star Race during the month of May. He dreamed that one day he, too, could be the one hoisting the trophy at one of stock car racing’s most hallowed grounds, and he finally accomplished that goal last weekend.
He now has his sights set on a bigger prize – a Coca-Cola 600 win and his first points-paying Cup Series win at Charlotte. In his 26 previous Cup Series starts at Charlotte over the past 12-plus seasons, Busch has managed to enjoy plenty of success on the oval nicknamed the “Beast of the Southeast.” He has 10 top-five finishes to go with his 15 overall top-10s there. In addition to solid Cup Series finishes, Busch has captured eight NASCAR Xfinity Series wins – May 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010, October 2008 and 2009, and both May and October 2013. He also has seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series wins – 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, and this past weekend.
So, this Memorial Day weekend, Busch will look to build upon the momentum from Saturday night’s All-Star Race, all while honoring PFC Johnson and all the troops who have given the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the ones who continue to serve America.