MILITARY TRIBUTE – Country duo Big & Rich promised a high-octane, ultra-energetic show, and it did not disappoint. The pair also showed its softer side, pulling up a decorated military veteran with five tours of duty under his belt for a shot of Crown Royal and a special rendition of the tune “The 8th of November.”

Big Kenny counted down and asked the crowd to yell “FREEDOM!” as he, John Rich and the military veteran downed their Crown.

“That’s how all country concerts should go,” Rich said. “God bless you for your service; this song is for you.”

After playing their tune, inspired by a friend’s Vietnam experience, Big Kenny led the crowd in the “Pledge of Allegiance.”

BANK OF AMERICA 500 DIGNITARIES – Saturday’s “The Star-Spangled Banner” will be sung by NewSong, a Dove-Award and Grammy-nominated Christian band. Leon Thomas, star of Nickelodeon’s Victorious will sing “God Bless America.”

The grand marshal of tonight’s Bank of America 500 will be Dan Nevins, executive vice president of the Wounded Warrior Project and retired staff sergeant in the U.S. Army. Retired staff sergeant and combat-wounded veteran Ben Dellinger will serve as honorary starter for tonight’s race.

And, of course, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle infiltration will continue with the pre-race festivities, a special family radio broadcast and more.

FLAG OF THANKS – Fans attending the Bank of America 500 have been signing flags with a message of support for the U.S. Armed Forces that will be displayed during the race in a giant flag mosaic. For each flag that is signed, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will donate one dollar to the Wounded Warrior Project, up to $250,000.

Fans can also upload images and words of thanks to and tag Instagram or Twitter pictures with #troopthanks in addition to signing the flags.

SHE SAID YES – Saturday was not a typical day at the race track for Joe Gibbs Racing employee Amanda Bender. Just after 6 p.m. outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Center, Nathan Godwin got down on one knee and proposed to Bender, who works in creative services for JGR. After dating more than five years, Godwin, 21, said he’d been planning the big day for more than a month.

“I knew she wouldn’t be expecting this, and she would have no idea this was coming,” Godwin said.

Mission accomplished. Bender, 22, was breathless with disbelief and excitement, adjusting her new jewelry and making phone calls to family members not able to be there to witness the big event.