Jimmie Johnson to honor fallen soldier during NASCAR race in Charlotte | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

Jimmie Johnson to honor fallen soldier during NASCAR race in Charlotte

Associated Press
1156907_web1_1156907-854bf34a7b934cd795d6ac871ad468af
AP
Jimmie Johnson poses with his race car for the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series. The car includes the name of fallen soldier Army Sgt. Richard Donlan on the windshield.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson is going camouflage for the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend to honor those who died while serving in the military.

Johnson unveiled a military-themed camouflage paint scheme Tuesday with the name of a fallen soldier written across the front windshield of his No. 48 Chevrolet. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion will pay tribute to Army Sgt. Richard Donlan, who died during combat in Vietnam.

Johnson’s patriotic car scheme is part of the “NASCAR Salutes” initiative, which honors fallen soldiers during the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Since 2015, the names of soldiers killed in action have been displayed on the windshields of race cars.

“The sacrifices those families make for our freedom, there is no way to say thank you enough,” Johnson said. “I think that is what makes this all so special. … It’s our turn to say thank you.”

The Coca-Cola 600 is May 26, the day before Memorial Day.

Johnson’s brother-in-law died while training in the Armed Forces, and his grandfather fought in World War II, so the weekend has a special meaning for the veteran driver.

“I have been close to it and around it, and while I didn’t live with it directly what military families go through I have a good understanding of it,” Johnson said.

Donlan, from Hampton, Va., was born in 1946 and died on Feb. 28, 1969, in the Binh Thuan province of Vietnam. He was part of the 506th infantry, 101st Airborne. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Donlan was a senior at Virginia when he voluntarily enlisted during the fall of 1967.

Laine Donlan, a nephew of Richard Donlan and a senior director in internet technology for Ally, said the tribute is an “incredible honor” to his family.

“When I submitted his name to be mentioned alongside the fallen soldiers, I had no idea Uncle Rick would be memorialized on the front of a seven-time NASCAR champion’s car,” Donlan said. “It’s humbling to know his service and sacrifice will be known by so many.”

Laine Donlan will be a special guest at the race weekend along with Richard’s brother, Jay, a Navy veteran, and Jay’s wife, Mary, who served in Vietnam as an Army nurse.

On Tuesday, 50 volunteers from Ally, the USO and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports racing team made about 1,000 care packages for active service members.

Categories: Sports | US-World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.