Richmond: Drivers visit wounded soldiers

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 2, 2003) -- The United States Army didn't have to look long to find NASCAR driver volunteers to visit wounded American soldiers back from the war in Iraq. "When General Dennis D. Cavin asked us if we could arrange for ...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 2, 2003) -- The United States Army didn't have to look long to find NASCAR driver volunteers to visit wounded American soldiers back from the war in Iraq.

"When General Dennis D. Cavin asked us if we could arrange for a few drivers to visit wounded soldiers, and the word got out in the garage, drivers came out of the woodwork saying they felt it would be an honor to make the trip,"said MB2 team manager Jay Frye.

Seven of NASCAR's top drivers, including current NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader Matt Kenseth, second place Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, along with Jerry Nadeau, who's car is sponsored by the U. S. Army, Ken Schrader, Johnny Benson and Kenny Wallace spent Wednesday morning paying their respects to young men and women who were injured during the war in Iraq and are now recovering at the Army's Walter Reed Hospital in Washington C.D.

"It was an incredible experience" said Earnhardt. "Man, those guys are real heroes. They were telling us how they thought we were brave driving these race cars. I told them, no way dude, what we do ain't nothing when we compare it to what you do."

All of the drivers were "moved", by the visit, including a few moments with Jessica Lynch, the rescued POW who is recovering from multiply injuries.

"Jessica is truly an inspiration," said Michael Waltrip. "Seeing her in pain and knowing she must have gone through an absolutely terrible ordeal, it makes you pause and truly appreciate what our young men and women do on our behalf."

Ken Schrader said the injured soldiers' attitudes were amazing. "Nobody we saw had any regrets over what happened to them. They weren't feeling sorry for themselves because of their injuries or about being over there "in Iraq". They were all pumped up."

"You know, we all talk about our teams. Our teams are nothing compared to those guys over there fighting."

Johnny Benson said, "It was an honor to visit the troops. It was an humbling experience."

Waltrip added, "Seeing those kids, knowing the commitments they made, it just set me back. I hope this experience stays with me forever. I know I'll never forget that day."

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Michael Waltrip , Ken Schrader , Jerry Nadeau , Johnny Benson