Arkansas native Tyler Whisenhunt is a finalist in Crown Royal's Your Hero's Name Here contest to have the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis named in his honor.
Tyler is in the top five out of over 6,000 nominees. His wife Amanda nominated Tyler because of his commitment to his country, his family and his community.
"He goes above and beyond, in the community, in everything he does," his wife Amanda said, "And he served in Iraq, and he had a negative situation that he turned into a positive, and he helped protect other people...there’s just no price you can put on something like that.”
Amanda said she found the contest online and wrote a hundred word entry to get Tyler in the running. She said three weeks later a phone call came to their house. Tyler had no idea that his wife had nominated him.
Tyler is retired from the Air Force as a Tech Sergeant. During a tour in Iraq in 2007, his convoy had a mechanical problem. He said they pulled their Humvees over and began to make repairs.
"I looked down and I saw wires running right by my Humvee, and I just kind of calmly turned around and looked at the guys and said ya’ll get in the vehicles," Tyler said, "And everybody got in their vehicles ,and about the time the doors shut the IED went off.”
He said everyone in his convoy was able to get to safety. He said the near miss made him think of ways to detect bombs before they got to their trucks.
"I just took some pipes and some chain and built a way to set the motion off in front of the Humvee," Tyler said.
Tyler invented a motion detector that his unit would use for the rest of his tour in Iraq. His wife said he has saved countless lives because of the invention.
"He had a bad situation happen, where it could have killed him and a bunch of other people," his wife said, "And he took that situation and he made something good out of it, he decided I’m going to find a way to protect other people from something like this because I was lucky to survive it.”
Amanda said this was one of the many reasons she felt her husband deserved to be recognized.
The finalists in the Crown Royal contest are flown to Nashville on June 4 to watch the CMT's. The winner of the Your Hero's Name Here will be announced at the show.
All of the finalists will be flown to Indianapolis in July for the Brickyard 400. The winner will get to wave the green flag in the qualifying round, ride in the pace car for the race, and present the trophy to the race winner.
On top of all of that, the race will be renamed with the winner's name.
"He’s always doing something for everybody else, so now its time for him to do something for himself," Amanda said.
Both Amanda and Tyler said all the finalists in the top five deserve to win.
"You should vote for anybody you want," she said, "Because they’re all heroes, and it’s not really about winning, it’s about the recognition.”
If you want to vote for Gentry's Tyler Whisenhunt, click here. Anyone over 21 can vote one time a day until the voting period ends on June 2.