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Tech. Sgt. Jason Gagnon wins trip to NASCAR race in Atlanta

By his own admission, Tech. Sgt. Jason Gagnon wasn’t expecting to come up big with this summer’s U.S. Air Forces in Europe Extreme Summer contest.

But he kept active, and the points earned through all types of activities on and off base paid dividends for him.

Last week, it was announced that the RAF Lakenheath airman had won one of the contest’s bigger prizes: a trip next month to NASCAR’s Nextel Race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, with all the VIP trimmings.

As a racing fan, Gagnon, 33, of the 48th Communications Squadron, is getting geared up to go.

So why did you get involved in the Extreme Summer contest? I didn’t put in a whole lot of effort last year, but I do a lot of sports. I basically just logged my points in. I wasn’t really looking to win, so it was kind of a surprise.

When did you find out the big news? It was last week. I was at work in the morning. I thought it was going to be a small prize, but [an Extreme Summer official] said I had to go over to the wing stand-up. I said, “Wing stand-up? Maybe it’s not just a little prize.”

Are you a NASCAR fan? Yes. I used to go to all the races.

What’s the trip going to entail? They pay for airline tickets, hotel and a rental car. We have VIP seats, VIP passes and we get to meet the drivers.

You’re just going for a weekend though. It’s going to be quite a quick trip, huh? Yeah, I’ll get over there, eat some Olive Garden. … (laughs)

Who are you taking with that second ticket? Right now, that’s up in the air, but hopefully it’ll be my girlfriend.

Has everyone been buttering you up to get that extra spot? Oh yeah. I’ve got all my friends calling me up. She’s gonna be first, then the rest will go in a hat and I’ll draw.

What’s so appealing about watching those cars go in a circle over and over and over and over? Going to the race is totally different than on TV. You can actually feel the power in the stands, from the cars.

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