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Real American heroes give pre-race command at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — After actor/comedians Adam Sandler and Kevin James turned the pre-race command for the 2013 Coke Zero 400 into a bit of a farce, the command on Saturday for 44 Sprint Cup drivers to start their engines was given in a more dignified manner, by four American heroes.

Four Medal of Honor recipients served as the grand marshals and, in unison, gave drivers their traditional order to fire up their powerful engines to begin the race.

The servicemen, all in the Army, were:

¦ Staff Sgt. Don Jenkins.

¦ Sgt. First Class Melvin Morris.

¦ Command Sgt. Major Gary Littrell.

¦ Command Sgt. Major Robert Patterson.

This is the sixth year in a row that Medal of Honor winners have been cited at Daytona International Speedway for the July race. Their order for the drivers capped a busy weekend in which they were honored with a private luncheon by NASCAR on Friday and attended the drivers’ meeting on Saturday.

After giving the command, they each got into their own pace car and led the field out onto the track.

Last year, Sandler and James gave the driver’s command with a bizarre rendition in which they dragged out the order by shouting and signing it, while gyrating wildly. Many fans did not enjoy it, and some drivers tweeted their displeasure.

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