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CLARKS GROVE, MN — For Don Goodnature, the memory of his son will always live on, but for one day, thousands will get a chance to honor US Army pilot Corey Goodnature.
For his decorated service in the U.S. Army, Corey’s name will appear on a decal on Kurt Busch’s number 78 car during a sprint cup race next weekend as part of an Armed Forces Foundation that honors fallen heroes.
“It’s an honor for us that they’re honoring him. We’re really, really surprised. We didn’t even know anything about it until my brother in law had mentioned it to us. I’d never even heard of it,” said Don.
The foundation dedicates each NASCAR race to an American soldier who is nominated by friends and family, something NASCAR officials say is an important aspect of what they do.
“NASCAR has a long standing tradition of honoring the numbers of our military and their families and this is an example of one of the many things that we do on a yearly basis to do just that,” said NASCAR representative, Matt Humphrey.
But for Don, it’s far less about the race and more about remembering the sacrifice his son made for his country.
Back in 2005, Corey was killed when his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. He was on his way to save a group of Navy Seals.
“As a parent it’s one of the things that you think about a lot when it first happens. That people are going to forget and things like this always keep his name out when people talk about it and just keep his legacy alive,” said Don.
Don and his family chose to have the decal placed on the car during the Sprint Cup race in Kansas City, a bittersweet opportunity for the NASCAR fan who never got to experience a race with his son.
“I always had intentions of going to a race because he was stationed in Savannah Georgia, kind of right in the heart of NASCAR country. I always intended to go to a race with him in Atlanta because it’s very close to Savannah but never got the opportunity,” said Don.
Corey will be officially honored during the race on April 21.