TALLADEGA, AL – A Talladega Superspeedway tradition since the spring of 2014, the Freedom Trophy – which proudly displays the five branches of the United States military – will be presented to the winner of the Sunday, May 7, GEICO 500 by Colonel Christopher C. Barnett.
The Freedom Trophy is presented to each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) winner by a member of one of our country’s military. Members from all five branches – Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard - have stood alongside a MENCS driver in Gatorade Victory Lane, handing the victorious driver the one-of-a-kind trophy.
Since the summer of 2016, Col. Barnett has been an instructor of Leadership and Warfighting at the Air War College (AWC), located on Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Prior to joining the AWC faculty, he served as the Vice Commander, 435th Air Ground Operations Wing, and Vice Commander, 435th Air Expeditionary Wing, Ramstein AFB, Germany.
Barnett is a 1991 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and AWC. He is also a certified command pilot, with more than 3,000 flight hours and 200 combat hours in a variety of H-60 aircraft. For his efforts relating to the combat search and rescue of an F-14 crew in Iraq on April 1, 2003, he was awarded the Air Force Special Operations Command "Pilot of the Year Award."
Four different drivers have been presented the Freedom Trophy at Talladega Superspeedway - Denny Hamlin (2014), Brad Keselowski (’14 & ’16), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (’15), and Joey Logano (’15 & ’16).
“At Talladega Superspeedway, we take great delight in supporting our nation’s military,” Chairman of Talladega Superspeedway Grant Lynch said. “We are thrilled to have Col. Barnett in attendance to present the Freedom Trophy to the winner of the GEICO 500 and can’t thank him enough for his service to our country. It will be an incredible chance for all our fans in attendance to show their appreciation to Col. Barnett and other members of our military. There’s nothing we take more pride in than showing support for those who fight for our freedom so that we can put on spectacular racing action at Talladega.”
In addition to recognizing the military through the Freedom Trophy, Talladega will also showcase the traditional military flyover with a massive C-130 four-engine turboprop aircraft and the always anticipated drive of Johnny Ray’s semi-truck, sporting a giant American flag during the National Anthem. The track is proud to offer special ticket prices for all members of the military and their families for its upcoming race weekend that features not only the GEICO 500, but also the Sparks Energy 300 on Saturday for the NASCAR XFINITY Series on Saturday, May 6, and the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Racing Series on Friday, May 5. For more information, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE.