GOODYEAR GIVES BACK: Officials from Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company announced Thursday in the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center the launch of the fifth annual "Goodyear Gives Back" charitable program benefiting Support Our Troops.


To kick off the program, Goodyear has again transformed its NASCAR race tires by replacing the "Eagle" sidewall design with the message "Support Our Troops" on all tires used this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.


The announcement coincides with Goodyear's charity auction at, which features autographed NASCAR memorabilia, VIP race experiences and Goodyear Blimp rides.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie driver Austin Dillon joked that he was going to bid on his own tire, just because it was such a great program.


"For me it's awesome to give back what little I can," Dillon said. "Being here on Memorial Day weekend is special; to see the troops carry the flag out onto the track and be a part of it this year is going to be very special."


Goodyear has raised over $800,000 to date through Goodyear Gives Back, and Goodyear Manager of Race Tire Sales Greg Stucker said it was one of the company's favorite promotions each year.


"I can't think of a better way to (kick off the program) than here at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend, with Memorial Day and hopefully all of our nation focused on the military and all of the sacrifices they made with all of the families," Stucker said. "That is what 'Support Our Troops' is really all about."                                                                                  


HOW TO SUCCEED IN THE 600 (WHILE REALLY TRYING): The Coca-Cola 600, the Ultimate Test of Man and Machine, has always provided the drivers with the utmost challenge in NASCAR. This weekend will be no different, Marcos Ambrose said Thursday in the CMS media center.

"The 600 will always be the 600," Ambrose said. "It's much longer and more demanding for drivers and teams. We have to factor for that. We have to approach the race different. We have to be the best at the end, and we have to be there and not crash out. Sort of like that last one standing."

Fellow driver Clint Bowyer said he thought the driver best on long runs would emerge victorious Sunday night. But he admitted that track position would be key.

"It's a long race, and a lot of things have to go right for a long time, no doubt about that," Bowyer said. "But we're pretty sporty so far."

SALUTE TO TROOPS: Tommy Baldwin Racing driver Reed Sorenson spent a morning this week at Weddington Hills Elementary School in Concord, North Carolina, helping a bevy of third-graders support his team's newest campaign.

Tommy Baldwin Racing is doing its patriotic part this Memorial Day weekend by partnering with Chevrolet and the Armed Forces Foundation for the Salute to Troops program, which encourages fans to write thank you notes to members of the armed forces serving our country. Fans can drop their letters into boxes provided at the Chevy display stands at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The program got a kick-start Friday when Sorenson visited that group of youngsters, who honed their writing skills by giving thanks to our military men and women.

"We just hung out with them and talked about (the program) and collected the letters; it was cool," Sorenson said. "Anybody can partake in it and send a letter out, whether it's me or you or third-grade kids. It's just something we thought would be cool for all of us to send our appreciation, and I'm sure they'll enjoy seeing that people are supporting them back home."

The Salute to Troops kicked off last weekend but will continue through the Independence Day weekend. Fans can find more information at the Tommy Baldwin Racing website and Facebook page.

"This is just a really easy way, five minutes of your time, to let those guys overseas know that we're thinking about them," fellow TBR driver Michael Annett said. "Unfortunately, it's something that really only gets fired up this one weekend, but it's something that people need to think about every day of the year."