NASCAR’s “Troops to the Track” program celebrates 5-year anniversary

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Here’s a good story heading into the July 4 holiday next week, as the NASCAR Troops to the Track program celebrates its five-year anniversary.

The program sees NASCAR and the Armed Forces Foundation created a year-round recreational group therapy program that honors service men and women, veterans and military families at races throughout the country. It’s traditionally been done at 20 or more NASCAR races each year.

The program has quickly become one of NASCAR’s signature initiatives, where thousands of troops from local military installations across the country are treated to customized VIP experiences which include garage tours, driver meet-and-greets and recognition during the drivers’ meeting, among many other special-access activities.

Last week at Sonoma, the program announced Bank of America, the official bank of NASCAR, as the presenting sponsor of Troops to the Track, and NASCAR recognized the Troops to the Track program in a pre-race ceremony.

“NASCAR has a long tradition of supporting our nation’s military and we are honored by the presence of the men and women who serve our country and their families at our races,” said Brent Dewar, NASCAR chief operating officer. “Through the collective support of the Armed Forces Foundation and Bank of America, we are proud to say that the initiative will expand to 27 races this season, the most since the program began five years ago.”

Added Patricia Driscoll, President of the Armed Forces Foundation: “Troops to the Track presented by Bank of America showcases NASCAR’s commitment to our nation’s military and we are proud of our joint effort the past five years to serve the military. Here at the Armed Forces Foundation, we constantly strive to ‘serve those who serve,’ and with the support from NASCAR and Bank of America, we will be able to provide more opportunities for service members and their families around the country to get away from the stresses of injuries and deployments while enjoying the patriotism of the NASCAR community.”

Driscoll and AFF have been in the news for more good reasons this year, as Kurt Busch’s run at “The Double” of 1,100 miles in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend was also done in support of the troops.

F1 Paddock Pass: United States Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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As Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his fourth Formula 1 World Championship Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, plenty of other topics of discussion emerged in the wake of Round 17 of the season from Austin.

Hamilton’s win came as his Mercedes AMG Petronas team claimed its fourth consecutive Constructor’s Championship, Scuderia Ferrari came up short once again despite a valiant effort in second and third, and Max Verstappen’s penalty after the race was the major talking point.

Elsewhere Valtteri Bottas struggled again, the Sahara Force India twins continued to pick up points, Carlos Sainz Jr. made a major positive impact in his first start with Renault, Brendon Hartley impressed on debut at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean and Haas F1 Team endured a tough weekend on Haas’ home soil.

Check out all the recap from the latest USGP in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, below.