Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice," and NASCAR honored members of the hockey team Sunday before the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. They announced "Start your engines" to kick off the ace. The moment came after members of the team wee criticized for appearing at President Donald Trump's campaign ally on Friday night.
This group set the gold standard for overcoming the odds on the big stage. 🏅February 23, 2020
NASCAR announced earlier this month that members of the team would be honored before the Las Vegas race. Team captain Mike Eruzione, Ken Morrow, Neal Broten and Dave Christian were among the players there.
"We are excited and honored to be coming to Las Vegas Motor Speedway to share our 40th anniversary with the great fans of NASCAR," Eruzione said in a statement. "It's always special when we can get this group of guys together, and we're looking forward to seeing some great racing action to wrap up our big Vegas weekend."
The appearance at Las Vegas Motor Speedway came a day after Eruzione and other players attended Trump's ally Friday. They wore hats with Trump's re-election slogan "Keep America Great" written on them.
Trump's critics were not happy about this, as it seemed like the players in one of the most unifying spots moments in history were picking political sides. The criticism was so loud that the team defended its actions on Twitter.
"To us, this is not about politics or choosing sides," their statement on Saturday read. "This is about proudly representing the United States of America. Whether your beliefs are Democratic, Republican, Independent, etc. we support that and are proud to represent the USA. It is an honor and privilege!"
The "Miracle on Ice" happened on Feb. 22, 1980 at Olympic Center in Lake Placid, New York. Team USA beat the heavily-favored Soviet Union team 4-3, even though the players wee mostly amateurs facing against experienced intentional players. The team next beat Finland to take home the gold medal.
On Saturday night, members of the team dropped the puck before the NHL game between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Florida Panthers.0comments
"I think as time has gone on, I've had a greater appreciation for my good fortune that I had and to be able to make that team and how it all worked out and that I could be a part of that," John Harrington, a member of the "Miracle on Ice" team told the Associated Press. "I think that as the years have gone on that it's humbling to think that I was a part of that. I'm humbled because it's still being talked about 40 years later and I was lucky enough to be a part of it."
Photo credit: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images