As race fans gear up for the first and only NASCAR race in Fontana this season at Auto Club Speedway, the drivers aren’t the only famous faces to keep an eye on. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Matthew Hansen will get his first shot at NASCAR fame as he serves as an honorary pit crew member of the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford driven by former NASCAR champion Matt Kenseth.
Crown Royal and Kenseth will roll out the purple carpet for the local California Marine who was recently awarded naming rights to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Richmond, Va. The April 30th race will be named Crown Royal Presents the Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 in honor of Matthew and his fallen twin brother Daniel – also a Marine. Daniel was killed while serving in Afghanistan on Feb. 14, 2009. The brothers enlisted within weeks of each other and despite losing his brother in service; Matthew continues to proudly serve our country.
Out of thousands of entries, the finalists for the 2011 Crown Royal “Your Name Here” 400 promotion were narrowed down to five, and from there the fans went to NASCAR.com to cast their vote. During a patriotic ceremony days before the Daytona 500, country music artist Rodney Atkins included the winner’s name in his hit song “These Are My People,” during an acoustic set at Daytona International Speedway.
Since Matthew was unable to attend the unveiling ceremony in Daytona, he will experience royal treatment for his first-ever NASCAR experience at his hometown race. The experience will include everything from pre-race festivities, such as the exclusive Driver’s Meeting and helping the Crown Royal team prepare the car for race time, to watching the race from atop the No. 17 pit box.