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NASCAR driver suits up with National Guard Special Forces

Suited up with Army National Guard equipment and uniform (except for cap and boots), NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon joins National Guard Security Forces Soldiers with his #24 car sporting a new paint scheme and graphics honoring the elite Soldiers, in Texas, on April 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano/Released)

Suited up with Army National Guard equipment and uniform (except for cap and boots), NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon joins National Guard Special Forces Soldiers with his #24 car sporting a new paint scheme and graphics honoring the elite Soldiers. Gordon was at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training facility in Maxwell, Texas, on April 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano/Released)

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon receives tips on weapons handling while suiting up with National Guard Security Forces Soldiers in Texas, on April 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano/Released)

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon receives tips on weapons handling while suiting up with National Guard Special Forces Soldiers in Texas on April 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano/Released)

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon takes aim with a sniper's rifle, with the help of a spotter, while suiting up with National Guard Security Forces Soldiers in Texas, on April 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano/Released)

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon takes aim with a sniper's rifle, with the help of a spotter, while suiting up with National Guard Special Forces Soldiers in Texas, on April 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano/Released)

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon disembarks from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter as he arrives at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) facility to suit up with National Guard Special Forces Soldiers, in Texas, on April 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano/Released)

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon disembarks from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter as he arrives at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training facility in Maxwell, Texas, to suit up with National Guard Special Forces Soldiers on April 15, 2010. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Mike Arellano/Released)

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- NASCAR racer Jeff Gordon made a special visit to a select group of National Guardsmen on a training installation in central Texas April 15.

     Gordon flew by National Guard UH-60 helicopter to the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) facility in Maxwell, Texas. He went there for the unveiling of the new paint and graphics scheme of his No. 24 car for the National Guard Special Forces detachment there and to get a taste of the training his hosts go through. The new scheme features "National Guard Special Forces" on its hood, and some of the Soldiers the car honors made Gordon a part of their team for the day.

     The training plan included familiarization with sniper systems, pistol and rifle tactics, and close quarter combat.

     Gordon said he has been learning about the National Guard and its programs over the last two years, but "this was the first opportunity I've had to interact with the Soldiers -- the elite guys with the Special Forces," he said. "It was a lot to take in."

     Gordon explained that just as auto racing had become second nature to him, what Special Forces Soldiers do becomes second nature to them. And while they can have some fun, it is serious business, and safety is very important during training.

     "We saw him slipping into a team environment much like his own team," said Capt. Daniel Edwards, the operational detachment commander at the facility, referring to Hendrick Motorsports team to which Gordon belongs as a racecar driver. "It's a world-class organization; we're a world-class organization, and we're proud to have our name on his car."

     Gordon said the Guardsmen's dedication, professionalism and "how they carry themselves" impressed him. "[There is] a lot of pride in what they do and what they represent," said Gordon.

     The new paint and graphics scheme was completed in time for the No. 24 car to make its public appearance at the SAMSUNG Mobile 500 NASCAR race April 18. The National Guard has sponsored the No. 24 car for the past two racing seasons, but this is the first race for it to display "National Guard Special Forces" and the Special Forces insignia.

     "I take a lot of pride carrying the National Guard [logo] around the race track," said Gordon. "When I get to carry the National Guard logo, it's a great reminder for me ... and for many others."

(Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain contributed to this article.)