Back on Sept. 9, Eldora Speedway in Rossburgn, Ohio, hosted its fifth annual Prelude to the Dream.

Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart owns the speedway.

Stewart has won three out of the five charity events, in which many of the regular NASCAR drivers are invited to participate.

After the inaugural event, drivers bragged about how much fun it had been to race there, so the following year a lot of the drivers asked Stewart if they could participate the next year.

This year's Prelude had 23 NASCAR drivers and crew chiefs. It's all for charity, with the proceeds to benefit American troops and their families.

The drivers get nothing but a trophy and bragging rights.

Carl Edwards, Bill Elliott, Dave Blaney and Jeff Gordon could not make this year's event.

The lucky replacements were A.J. Almendinger, Brian Vickers, Marcus Ambrose, Joey Lagona and Casey Mears, all first-time participants.

After the race, drivers again said it was a blast and they couldn't wait to come back next year.

In addition to a pay-per-view audience, approximately 23,000 fans showed up to watch, standing-room-only, as their favorite NASCAR drivers competed.

More than $3 million was raised during the past four years.

Stewart had hoped this year's event would earn more than $1 million, with proceeds going to charities to help wounded soldiers and/or fallen heroes and their families.

The four charities are Wounded Warrior Project (www.WoundedWarriorProject.org), Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (www.FallenHeroesFund.org), Operation Homefront (www.OperationHomefront.net) and Fisher House (www.Fisherhouse.org).

Stewart's thinking is that, with all that's going on in the world today, it is time to give back to the troops and their families for the sacrifices they make to protect this country.

He is the owner and teammate for Ryan Newman, whose race car is sponsored by the U.S. Army.

That sponsorship has given Stewart and Newman the opportunity to meet some of our servicemen and women... that's another reason Stewart wanted to give something back.

So, thank you to the drivers for supporting our troops, and a special thank you to all our veterans and our troops serving today, and to the troops who will be serving this country in the future.

The Spring Cup guys are in Phoenix on Sunday.