KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – This Memorial Day Weekend, the memory of a fallen Tri-Cities soldier, Jason Omar Bradley Hickman, will be honored during the Coca-Cola 600 Miles of Remembrance at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The race car will be driven by 2018 Nascar Cup Series Champion, Joey Logano.
Pheben Kassahun spoke with Logano and the son of fallen Kingsport soldier, Landon Hickman, who happens to be his biggest fan.
In January 2010, Landon’s father was killed by an IED in Afghanistan, just weeks before his scheduled return home.
Landon decided to reach out to Logano, his NASCAR idol, thanking him for sending him an autograph, but he did not realize his letter would return with a huge honor.
Fifteen-year-old Landon Hickman does not remember much about his father, but he does recall one thing.
“He was a really good father,” Landon Hickman said.
SFC Hickman joined the United States Army in 1999.
He also remembers that his father enjoyed watching his favorite NASCAR driver of all time, Dale Earnhardt.
It was a passion that he passed on to his son, Landon, who enjoys watching number 22, Joey Logano, burn rubber around arenas, especially at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Hickman said, “He has one of the best attitudes and he don’t care like, whenever he wins or loses. He always has an upright feeling.”
Hickman wrote a thank you letter to the 2018 Cup Series Champion for sending him an autograph.
“And in the letter, I mentioned my dad and I wanted to go to the Coca-Cola 600 one day and put his name on a car,” Hickman said.
“As a father, and a son of kind of putting yourself in that situation, those letters to me touch home more than ever before,” Joey Logano told Kassahun.
During the 600 Miles of Remembrance, the names of fallen U.S. Armed Forces members are displayed on the windshields of each of the 40 NASCAR Cup Series cars in the race.
Logano said, “He did quite a few tours overseas and just totally committed to our country. To me, it gives me goosebumps just sitting here and thinking about it.”
“I was actually kind of excited and emotional in a way, like emotional in a way too,” Hickman said.
Knowing there’s a connection to why Logano will be racing this weekend, makes this race a little sweeter.
“If I can put that car in victory lane, knowing Landon is watching, and his dad’s name is on my car. That will be an emotional day if we can make that happen. I hope we can,” Logano said. “It’d be the coolest part.”
Although no fans are allowed in the stands, Landon said he will proudly cheer on number 22 in his living room. The CoCa-Cola 600, at Charlotte Motor Speedway will take place this Sunday, May 24 at 6 p.m. ET on FOX.