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  • Jorge Barrientos, Matt Pearce To Provide Command For Drivers To Start Their Engines During “Back The Blue Night” At The Verizon IndyCar Series Race
  • Drivers Will Don Ball Caps Of Local, State, National Law Enforcement Departments While Indy Cars Will Carry “Back The Blue” Decal
  • All First Responders And A Guest Admitted Free To Firestone 600 

FORT WORTH, Texas (August 26, 2016) – Dallas Police Department Officer Jorge Barrientos, who was wounded in the July 7 ambush in the city’s downtown that killed five officers, will be joining Fort Worth Police Department Officer Matt Pearce, who was shot multiple times during a manhunt in March, to serve as the co-Grand Marshals of Saturday night’s Firestone 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. 

Barrientos and Pearce will provide the command to the drivers to start their engines for the resumption of the Firestone 600 (8 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Network) and highlight the various salutes to law enforcement officers during the speedway’s “Back The Blue Night.” The two officers also will be acknowledged at the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers’ meeting as well as address the drivers for their support of law enforcement with the tributes. 

Barrientos, a four-year member of the Dallas Police Department, was part of the Fox Trot Unit that was handling traffic at the peaceful protest march held downtown July 7 when the ambush began. The 28-year-old was shot in the left hand and had shrapnel in his chest, but persevered and began providing help to the fallen officers. Ultimately, three of the five officers that were killed came from his unit. 

Pearce, a 36-year-old who has been with the Fort Worth Police Department since 2009, was shot multiple times March 15 after a police chase for a wanted man and his son ended in a wooded area in far west Fort Worth. He was shot multiple times, including in the cheek, arm, chest and leg, and his injuries included a bruised heart and fractured femur. It was considered a miracle he survived the shooting and he spent two months in the hospital before being released in May. 

"It's an honor to have these great police officers with us for the completion of the Firestone 600,” Verizon IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal said. “They are true heroes of this great country that make us very proud and keep us safe. I am thrilled that Texas Motor Speedway has this ”˜Back the Blue’ initiative going this weekend and I can't wait to get down there and personally thank all the police officers and first responders in the DFW area." 

The drivers and INDYCAR sanctioning body have joined Texas Motor Speedway in expressing their support of the dedicated service of law enforcement officers through special salutes. 

The teams competing in the Firestone 600 will carry a 5-inch wide “Back The Blue” decal on a non-specific area of the Indy cars. 

The drivers will don ball caps of various local, state and national law enforcement agencies during pre-race activities to exhibit their support. The local departments scheduled to be represented with ball caps are the Dallas PD, Fort Worth PD, Addison PD, Arlington PD, Benbrook PD, Burleson PD, Carrollton PD, Crowley PD, Farmers Branch PD, Flower Mound PD, Fort Worth SWAT, Irving PD, Lewisville PD, Northlake PD, Parker County Sheriff’s Department, Roanoke PD and Willow Park PD in addition to the U.S. Marshal, FBI, Texas Rangers, Texas Department of Public Safety and Austin PD. 

The driver also will autograph the hat worn by them following pre-race activities and each will be returned to the respective departments as a sign of gratitude. 

Addison Police Chief Paul Spencer and several of his officers will be special guests of Dale Coyne Racing and team manager Darren Crouser, who has been friends with the chief since the 1990s. Also, Chief Spencer will be manning the pit sign during stops for the No. 19 car of Gabby Chavez. 

Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi kicked off the “Back The Blue” salutes Aug. 17 when he made special visits with Texas Motor Speedway to the Dallas and Fort Worth police departments and personally thanked them for their service. 

As part of “Back The Blue Night,” Texas Motor Speedway is offering all first responders and one guest free admission to the Firestone 600. All they need to do is show proper ID at the Gate 4 ticket office booth to receive their race tickets. 

The Firestone 600 is the resumption of the race that was postponed Saturday, June 11, due to weather and rescheduled for the following day. A total of 71 of the scheduled 248 laps were run June 12 before the race was suspended due to inclement weather. The race, which now is in the championship stretch of the season as the third-to-last race, will resume on Lap 72 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver James Hinchcliffe leading. 

All tickets for the Firestone 600 are general admission at $28 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. For more information, please visit www.texasmotorspeedway.com or call the speedway ticket office at 817.215.8500.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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