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NASCAR comes to Fairchild, champion driver stresses importance of military

Members of Team Fairchild look around the No. 20 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry and it's hauler truck at the Funspot at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Aug. 21, 2013. Fifty free tickets to a local race were given away by the Bill McAnally Racing Team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mary O'Dell/Released)

Members of Team Fairchild look around the No. 20 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry and it's hauler truck at the Funspot at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Aug. 21, 2013. Fifty free tickets to a local race were given away by the Bill McAnally Racing Team. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Mary O'Dell)

Zion Herrera, 1, sits in the No. 20 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry at the Funspot at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Aug. 21, 2013. Crew members from the Bill McAnally Racing Team gave away fifty free tickets to a local race in Airway Heights, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mary O'Dell/Released)

Zion Herrera, 1, sits in the No. 20 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry at the Funspot at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Aug. 21, 2013. Crew members from the Bill McAnally Racing Team gave away fifty free tickets to a local race in Airway Heights, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Mary O'Dell)

Michael Waltrip, professional NASCAR driver, drives the No. 20 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry in the K&N NASCAR Pro Series West race at the Spokane County Raceway in Airway Heights, Wash., Aug. 24, 2013. Waltrip has 1,061 starts in NASCAR's three top series and won the Daytona 500 in 2001 and 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Mary O'Dell/Released)

Michael Waltrip, professional NASCAR driver, drives the No. 20 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry in the K&N NASCAR Pro Series West race at the Spokane County Raceway in Airway Heights, Wash., Aug. 24, 2013. Waltrip has 1,061 starts in NASCAR's three top series and won the Daytona 500 in 2001 and 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Mary O'Dell)

Staff Sgt. Brett Myers, 92nd Security Forces Squadron military working dog
handler, gets in a NAPA team race car at the Spokane County Raceway in Airway Heights, Wash., Aug. 23, 2013.  Throughout the week, several personnel from Fairchild got the opportunity to ride in the stock cars for three laps around the track.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Sam Fogleman/Released)

Staff Sgt. Brett Myers, 92nd Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, gets in a NAPA team race car at the Spokane County Raceway in Airway Heights, Wash., Aug. 23, 2013. Throughout the week, several personnel from Fairchild got the opportunity to ride in the stock cars for three laps around the track. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Sam Fogleman)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Two-time Daytona 500 winner, Michael Waltrip, talked about the importance of the military following a display of two NASCAR racecars and a hauler here Wednesday.

Bill McAnally Racing brought the NAPA-sponsored racecars on base for Airmen and families to enjoy. They also provided rides in their racecars for several Fairchild Airmen at the Spokane County Raceway and gave away 50 free tickets to the K&N Pro Series West race that was held in Spokane Saturday that Waltrip raced in.

Waltrip is a huge supporter of the military.

During a telephone interview, Waltrip said: "In the history of this sport, we have always been synonymous with the military. I love seeing them in uniform at all the tracks. NASCAR has a common bond with the military - we are both passionate about what we do for a living."

He is appreciative of the Air Force and the mission that it has.

"To the men and women at Fairchild, thank you for what you do serving our country every day - it's you who allow us to race these cars."

More than 200 people stopped by the NASCAR displays Wednesday and talked with crew members.

"Being a big racing fan, seeing the racecars on base really made me feel like a kid in a candy store," said Staff Sgt. Brett Myers, 92nd Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler. "It was very cool."

The NASCAR crew who showed off the equipment was more than happy to do so.

"It was a great event," said Joe Fernandez, Bill McAnally Racing crew member. "I thought it would be cool to meet the Fairchild Airmen, but I wasn't expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I spent a few years in the Army way back when, so it was nice to be around military again."

Base leadership was also impressed with Bill McAnally Racing.

"I was excited when I found out that NASCAR was going to spend some time with us," said Chief Master Sgt Wendy Hansen, 92nd Air Refueling Wing command chief. "NASCAR is hugely popular and you don't get a chance to see the equipment up close very often. My inner child really came out when I got to sit in Michael Waltrip's car. If having the cars, tools and hauler on display wasn't enough, we were also incredibly fortunate to have Jerrod Trotter and Joe Fernandez here to explain it all. They were friendly, knowledgeable and as excited to talk to our Airmen as our Airmen were to talk NASCAR - it was a great event."

Waltrip was pretty excited about racing in Spokane.

I have a blast whenever I get to race in parts of the country we don't get to visit too often, Waltrip said. I enjoy racing in the NASCAR K&N Series. It's a place where you get to see the upcoming stars of NASCAR. That's where drivers like Kevin Harvick, Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer learned their lessons - this series is fun to race.

He has 1,061 starts in NASCAR's three top series. He owns 16 wins, 103 top-five and 241 top-10 finishes. He won the Daytona 500 in 2001 and 2003.

(Portions of this article were contributed by Michael Waltrip Racing.com)