NASCAR Driver Holds Virtual Workouts With U.S. Army Soldiers

Austin Dillon

Getty NASCAR driver Austin Dillon prepares for a race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

With the calendar turning to May, NASCAR drivers are preparing for the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day Weekend. Ahead of the event that honors military members, Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon spent virtual time with members of the United States Army stationed in Kuwait. He and his pit crew conducted high-intensity workouts while comparing different training styles.

The special session, created in partnership with Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Mission 600, started with the active military members displaying several of the workouts from the Army Combat Fitness Test. They demonstrated deadlifts, power throws, sprint/drag/carry drills, and multiple other movements. They then explained how these drills help them prepare for scenarios on the battlefield.

“When you think back to the Daytona 500 you won, think about how good that felt,” said Maj. Clarence Black from U.S. Army Central Kuwait, per a news release. “All of the hours of training and preparation, all to culminate on probably what was your best day. For us, it’s different. When we train, we are training for combat, and that’s arguably our worst day – not something any of us ever want to do. We train hard so that we can survive and thrive on our worst day ever.”

The No. 3 team showed off a different style of workout

GettyThe No. 3 team during a pit stop

Following the demonstration of the ACFT, Dillon and his pit crew jumped into action. They went through a series of upper body workouts led by RCR’s strength and conditioning coach, Jackson Meadows. The coach explained that the race teams take a very different approach to training, putting an emphasis on a short burst of explosive movement.

“In pit stops, we are training the anaerobic system,” Meadows said. “Anaerobic systems are anything between 10-12 seconds. We are not conditioning. We are doing straight explosive power movements… to train us to be faster off the jump and faster out of kneeling positions.”

Speed is critical during NASCAR pit stops. The teams have literal seconds to change all four tires, add fuel, and make any other adjustments needed to help drivers perform better on the subsequent laps. A top team can help their driver move up spots on the leaderboard during a pit stop while one that struggles can disrupt a promising series of laps.

According to Sportskeeda, Kevin Harvick’s team turned in the fastest time of the 2020 season with a pit stop at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. They changed the tires and filled the car with fuel in only 13.816 seconds. By comparison, Chase Elliott’s team averaged 14.134 seconds during the 2019 season.

Mission 600 has connected multiple drivers with military members

GettyTrackhouse Racing driver Daniel Suarez

Dillon is not the only driver to spend time with active members of the Armed Forces ahead of the Coca-Cola 600. Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez recently had the opportunity to virtually tour U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Richard Snyder. He met commanding officer Lt. Greg Bredariol and his crew, saw the ship’s defense systems and the 26-foot pursuit boat among others. He then interacted with the Coast Guard members, answering questions about his own career path.

“For someone like me, coming from Mexico and having all these amazing benefits that this country enjoys thanks to you guys – our freedom, our safety – it feels amazing,” Suárez told the sailors during the special visit. “If I ever go far into the ocean, I want you guys going with me. I wouldn’t take anyone else.”

Now in its fourth year, Mission 600 has the goal of pairing drivers with regional military bases in order to honor the men and women of the Armed Forces. Four Coca-Cola drives are taking part in 2021 while moving from in-person to virtual visits. Though Ryan Newman will physically visit Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC, next week. Joey Logano will then virtually visit with Air Force Network Japan.

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