Rodney Atkins Among Star Studded Lineup Set To Honor Matthew & Daniel Hansen

From Bobby and Donnie Allison to Ward and Jeff Burton, NASCAR has featured its fair share of famous brothers.   However, this weekend at Richmond International Raceway, the names of two new siblings will be on the tip of every tongue in the NASCAR garage:  Matthew and Daniel Hanson, U.S. Marine twins and grand-prize winners of the Crown Royal “Your Name Here” contest.  The contest awarded them with naming rights to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday, April 30, officially titled, “Crown Royal Presents The Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400.”
Traditionally, the race has donned only the name of the contest winner, but this year’s race will recognize Matthew, as well as his identical twin brother and fellow Marine, Daniel, who was killed in action on Feb. 14, 2009.  Matthew Hansen, a San Marcos, Calif. native, was unveiled as the grand-prize winner earlier this year during a ceremony led by country music star Rodney Atkins at Daytona International Speedway.  Atkins performed his hit song “These are My People” during an acoustic set and added the Hansen brothers’ names to the lyrics signifying their selection as winners. 
“I have a feeling this weekend is going to be full of incredible moments,” said Hansen.  “From experiencing the rush of the race to hanging out with stars like Matt Kenseth and Rodney Atkins, I’m really looking forward to getting to Richmond.  I wish Daniel could share this with me, but he will definitely be in my heart the entire time.”

This year marked the second year that Crown Royal, a subsidiary of Diageo plc (NYSE:  DEO) focused the annual promotion solely on military service members to honor their heroic acts and service to their country.  Matthew’s nomination was submitted by his godmother and chronicled his steadfast service during three tours of duty in Iraq, despite losing his twin brother and best friend.
“This weekend we are proud to honor two American heroes in Matthew and Daniel Hansen,” said Yvonne Briese, Crown Royal Brand Director.  “The kind of bravery and selflessness these men have displayed are the exact traits Crown Royal sought to highlight through the ‘Your Name Here’ program and we could not ask for two better service members to represent this program.” 
 

Matthew and Daniel joined the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) in 2002.  Matthew served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and now works at a military base in San Marcos due to injury.  He hopes to return overseas again on duty.  Daniel was selected to protect President George W. Bush at Camp David in 2004 and later Lieutenant General Richard C. Zilmer, USMC while in Iraq, before falling victim to a roadside bomb supporting combat operations in the Farah province of Afghanistan.  In honor of Matthew, Daniel and troops across the world, LtGen Richard Zilmer, USMC (Ret.) and Major General Ray Fox, USMC Commanding General of Training and Education Command in Quantico, Va., plan to attend this weekend’s race in Richmond. 
Matthew Hansen will receive the royal treatment throughout the weekend courtesy of Crown Royal and Richmond International Raceway.  His name will be incorporated into the national race broadcast and has been included on all race tickets and event merchandise.  He will serve as Grand Marshal, including riding in pace-car laps, watching the race from the No. 17 pit box and delivering the trophy bearing his name to the race winner in Victory Lane.  Hansen will be joined by friends and family members throughout the race weekend. 
“It is a privilege to host Matthew as he honors his brother at Richmond International Raceway on April 30,” said Richmond International Raceway president Doug Fritz. “We are thrilled to again team up with Crown Royal for the ‘Your Name Here’ program, recognizing members of our Armed Forces. The Crown Royal Presents the Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will be a momentous event at America’s Premier Short Track.”
Hansen will also spend time with Atkins, who will continue his partnership with Crown Royal with an hour-long concert prior to the race to salute those who proudly serve.  Ticketholders aged 21 and older will be able to view the concert on the frontstretch of America’s Premier Short Track.  The concert will also be streamed live on NASCAR.com.
“This weekend’s show in Richmond is going to be a blast,” said Atkins, who has one of the most added singles on country radio this week with “Take A Back Road.”  “Not only do I get to perform for thousands of race fans, but I get to do so for a cause I really believe in – honoring American heroes like Matthew and Daniel Hansen.”

Crown Royal, primary sponsor of Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 Ford Fusion, continues to use its NASCAR-related sponsorship to remind fans to “Please Drink Responsibly.”  In seven years as a sponsor of the sport, Crown Royal has provided thousands of adult consumers safe and free rides through its “Safe Rides Home” designated driver initiative and strives to continue educating people on the importance of drinking responsibly.