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2014 Sprint Cup Series champion spends time at Nellis Air Force Base LAS VEGAS—In a massive hangar that houses the fighter jets flown by the Thunderbirds, against the backdrop of a gigantic American flag reminiscent of George C. Scott’s monologue in the movie "Patton," Kevin Harvick fielded questions from a group of enthusiastic NASCAR fans. But this was no ordinary fan engagement. Those asking Harvick about everything from the final laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway to the now-notorious shove of Brad Keselowski at Texas Motor Speedway were clad not in the livery of their favorite drivers, but in camouflage. The recently crowned NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion came to Nellis Air Force Base to express his appreciation for those who serve, with his words often interrupted by the near-deafening roar of jets taking off from a nearby runway. "It's really hard to be able to show the appreciation that you have for it as much as you need to, because you really can't ever get to the point of appreciating it enough," Harvick said after he and crew chief Rodney Childers interacted with the crowd. "As you go to different places and you've seen other countries and how things operate, you really appreciate being from the United States and living the life that we live. "We're very fortunate, but it takes a lot of sacrifice from a lot of individuals to make that happen. So any time you can do an event like this and say thanks and just be part of the activities, it's definitely worth the time to do that." Ever since he won the championship by a half-second over Ryan Newman in the season finale at Homestead, Harvick has been the focus of a whirlwind media blitz that has included appearances on such TV staples as "Late Show with David Letterman" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live." What resonated most, however, was an appearance at his hometown high school in Bakersfield, California, on Monday, where Harvick addressed an appreciative crowd of 960 students. "That's still by far the coolest thing I’ve gotten to do so far," Harvick said. "All the TV shows and all that stuff is just—I shouldn't say part of the job, because that's really neat, too, to be a part of that—but to go back and go to your hometown and go to your high school and be able to speak to the kids and hopefully be an influence to them in their life… We've done a lot of work at the high school over the past several years, really trying to have a positive impact on the kids and their situations, whether it be with the sports teams or just talking to them in general. "We've put a lot of effort into the school. So to be able to take that trophy back and show them, 'You can be rich, you can be poor, but if you put your mind to what you're doing and have a goal and follow your dream, you can accomplish it, because I have proof of it.' "I grew up right where they all grew up and accomplished what we've accomplished. It's good to be able to have the ability to have an influence on people's lives." For Harvick, the most difficult thing about the non-stop schedule and constant attention is that he hasn't been able to share the experience with his team members, whom he hasn't seen since Nov. 16 at Homestead. "I got out of the car and did an interview and went up on stage and took all the pictures, and that's the only time I've seen my whole team," Harvick said. "The rest of it has just been part of the process of getting to championship week and the banquet and everything. "But I'm most excited about seeing my guys and talking to 'em and having dinner with 'em and being able to really start to take it all in and just talk about everything that was done." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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See who will be on track at Homestead in the final Nationwide Series race RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 01 Landon Cassill Johnny Davis Dave Fuge 14 Chevrolet Flex Seal 2 2 Brian Scott Richard Childress Phil Gould 14 Chevrolet Shore Lodge 3 3 Ty Dillon Richard Childress Danny Stockman Jr 14 Chevrolet WESCO 4 4 Jeffrey Earnhardt Gary Keller Gary Cogswell 14 Chevrolet GCL/Polyglass 5 5 Josh Berry Rick Hendrick Ernie Cope 14 Chevrolet Ragu 6 6 Trevor Bayne Jack Roush Chad Norris 14 Ford AdvoCare 7 7 Regan Smith Kelley Earnhardt-Miller Ryan Pemberton 14 Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 8 9 Chase Elliott Dale Earnhardt Jr Greg Ives 14 Chevrolet NAPA AUTO PARTS 9 10 Ross Chastain(i) Mark Smith Bruce Cook 14 Toyota watermelon.org 10 11 Elliott Sadler J D Gibbs Chris Gayle 14 Toyota OneMain Financial 11 12 Ryan Blaney(i) Roger Penske Greg Erwin 14 Ford Discount Tire 12 14 Eric McClure Mark Smith Wes Ward 14 Toyota Hefty Ultimate / Reynolds Wrap 13 16 Ryan Reed Jack Roush Seth Barbour 14 Ford ADA Drive to Stop Diabetes presented by Lilly Diabetes 14 17 Tanner Berryhill Adrian Berryhill Daniel Stillman 14 Toyota New Gulf Resources 15 19 Mike Bliss Mark Smith Paul Clapprood 14 Toyota Tweaker Energy Shot 16 20 Matt Kenseth(i) Joe Gibbs Kevin Kidd 14 Toyota GameStop 17 22 Brad Keselowski(i) Roger Penske Jeremy Bullins 14 Ford Hertz 18 23 Robert Richardson Jr Robert Richardson Sr George Church 14 Chevrolet TBD 19 25 John Wes Townley(i) Tony Townley Mike Ford 14 Toyota No. 25 Zaxby's Toyota 20 226 Jake Crum(i) Marc Browning Marc Browning 14 Chevrolet MyFreedomSmokes.com 21 28 J J Yeley James Whitener Steve Plattenberger 13 Dodge Texas 28 Spirits Stage 22 31 Dylan Kwasniewski Steve Turner Shannon Rursch 14 Chevrolet Rockstar / AccuDoc 23 33 Scott Lagasse Jr Richard Childress Nick Harrison 14 Chevrolet Grainger 24 36 TBA Beth Baldwin Zach McGowan 14 Chevrolet Accell / East West 25 39 Ryan Sieg Rod Sieg Kevin Starland 14 Chevrolet Huntinator 26 40 Matt Dibenedetto Curtis Key Sr Kyle Symington 14 Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 27 42 Kyle Larson(i) Harry Scott Jr Scott Zipadelli 14 Chevrolet Cartwheel by Target 28 43 Dakoda Armstrong Richard Petty Philippe Lopez 14 Ford WinField 29 44 Blake Koch Mark Smith Greg Conner 14 Toyota Celsius Flo Fusion 30 46 Ryan Ellis Curtis Key Sr Gary Showalter 14 Chevrolet Curtis Key Plumbing 31 51 Jeremy Clements Tony Clements Ricky Pearson 14 Chevrolet All South Electric- Repairable Vehicals 32 52 Joey Gase Jimmy Means Tim Brown 14 Chevrolet TBA 33 54 Kyle Busch(i) J D Gibbs Adam Stevens 14 Toyota Monster Energy 34 55 David Starr Jimmy Dick Jason Miller 14 Chevrolet Niece Eqiupment 35 60 Chris Buescher Jack Roush Scott Graves 14 Ford Humalog 36 62 Brendan Gaughan Richard Childress Shane Wilson 14 Chevrolet South Point 37 70 Derrike Cope Mary Louise Miller Bobby Burrell 14 Chevrolet Charlie's Soap/YOUTHEORY 38 172 John Jackson James Carter Richard Garcia 14 Chevrolet Crash Claims R US 39 74 Kevin Lepage Mike Harmon Gary Ritter 12 Dodge MHR 40 87 Milka Duno Andrea Nemechek Steven Gray 14 Toyota CAN TV 41 190 Martin Roy Michelle Gosselin Mario Gosselin 14 Chevrolet Gamache Truck Center 42 91 Jeff Green Mark Smith Todd Myers 14 Toyota SupportMilitary.org 43 93 Kevin Swindell Gregg Mixon Ken Evans 13 Dodge JGL Racing 44 98 Corey LaJoie(i) Fred Biagi Jon Hanson 14 Ford Medallion Financial/Smithfield 45 99 James Buescher Robby Benton Matthew Lucas 14 Toyota Rheem MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
See who will be in the 22nd and final NCWTS race of the 2014 season Entry # Driver Owner Crew chief Manufacturer Sponsor 1 0 Caleb Roark Kenneth Grimes Michael Stewart 14 Chevrolet Grimes Irrigation & Construction 2 02 Tyler Young Randy Young Bryan Berry 14 Chevrolet Randco/Young's Building Systems 3 05 John Wes Townley Tony Townley Michael Shelton 14 Toyota Zaxby's 4 6 Norm Benning Norm Benning Kevin Dargie 14 Chevrolet TBA 5 07 Todd Peck Ken Smith Doug Weddle 14 Chevrolet TBA 6 8 Joe Nemechek Sidney Mauldin Jerry Babb 14 Toyota swmtx.com 7 08 Ray Black Jr Bobby Dotter Jason Miller 14 Chevrolet ScubaLife / NASE WorldWide 8 9 Brennan Newberry Joe Denette Ryan McKinney 14 Chevrolet Qore-24 9 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Jennifer Jo Cobb Steve Kuykendall 14 Chevrolet Oohrah! Hydration Drink 10 13 Jeb Burton Duke Thorson Jeriod Prince 14 Toyota Estes-Carolina Nut Company 11 115 Mason Mingus Billy Boat Ben Leslie 14 Chevrolet Call 811 Before You Dig 12 17 Timothy Peters Tom Deloach Marcus Richmond II 14 Toyota Red Horse Racing 13 19 Tyler Reddick Brad Keselowski Doug Randolph 14 Ford DrawTite 14 20 TBA Bob Newberry Chris Rice 14 Chevrolet Qore-24 15 21 Joey Coulter Maurice Gallagher Jr Jeff Stankiewicz 14 Chevrolet Allegiant Travel 16 23 Spencer Gallagher Maurice Gallagher Jr Harold Holly 14 Chevrolet Allegiant Travel 17 29 Ryan Blaney Brad Keselowski Chad Kendrick 14 Ford Cooper Standard 18 31 Ben Kennedy Steve Turner Doug George 14 Chevrolet Heater.com 19 32 Tayler Malsam Harry Scott Jr Shannon Rursch 14 Chevrolet Outerwall 20 35 Ross Chastain Kevin Cywinski Mark Rette 14 Toyota TBA 21 136 Blake Koch(i) Beverly Mittler Michael Mittler 14 RAM Mittler Bros Machine & Tool/LG Seeds/Ski Soda 22 40 Todd Peck Michael Peck Keith Wolfe 14 Chevrolet Horizon Pharma/Arthritis Foundation 23 242 Kyle Larson(i) Steve Turner Mike Hillman Jr 14 Chevrolet ParkerStore 24 245 Matt Tifft B J McLeod Trip Bruce III 14 Chevrolet TBA 25 50 T J Bell Mark Beaver Tim Sliva 14 Chevrolet Dedicated to the Electrical Lineman 26 51 Kyle Busch(i) Kyle Busch Eric Phillips 14 Toyota ToyotaCare 27 54 Darrell Wallace Jr Kyle Busch Jerry Baxter 14 Toyota ToyotaCare 28 159 Kyle Martel William Martel William Martel 13 Chevrolet TBA 29 63 Justin Jennings Michael Mittler Michael Mittler 14 Chevrolet Mittler Bros Machine & Tool/LG Seeds/Ski Soda 30 77 German Quiroga Tom Deloach Butch Hylton 14 Toyota OtterBox 31 88 Matt Crafton Rhonda Thorson Carl Joiner 14 Toyota Jeld-Wen/Menards 32 92 Austin Hill Ricky Benton Michael Hester 14 Ford Goodyear Fleet HQ / Wynns / ARCO / A&D Welders 33 98 Johnny Sauter Mike Curb Jeff Hensley 14 Toyota Nextant/Curb Records 34 99 Bryan Silas Chris Baluch Cal Boprey 14 Chevrolet TBA MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
RPM driver shows gratitude to Ambrose for contributions to organization RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota LOUDON, N.H. -- Aric Almirola has plenty of pressure to perform the next two weekends to keep his Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason hopes alive. One thing he's scratched off the list of things to worry about -- the livelihood of his Richard Petty Motorsports team. Despite his last-place position in the 16-driver playoff, Almirola was almost all smiles Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , two days after his team reaffirmed its commitment to remain a two-car operation in 2015. It's the sort of long-term vote of confidence in the wake of teammate Marcos Ambrose 's impending departure that can at least soothe some of the opening-round heartbreak that visited The King's famed No. 43 last weekend at Chicagoland. "It's really important," Almirola said. "You see most or all of the top teams in this sport are multi-car teams and that's important to have that resource of teammates and more information. I think any time you do things with just one person it becomes really easy to get stuck in your ways and not be able to see outside the box, but as soon as you get more information, more teammates, more heads thinking on the same thing, it opens your eyes to a lot of different opportunities as far as setups and people and ways to go about setting your cars up and processes in the shop. "So I think anytime something like this is going down, it's important for the guys and first and foremost for the guys at the race team to know that, 'Hey, you're OK, you're safe. We’re not shutting the car down. We're gonna have two cars and we're gonna go racing.' So that's first and foremost of the importance to let those guys know that they're OK, but on top of that for everything that we've built over the last four or five years to this point and being a winning race team and a Chase-contending race team, to let everybody know that's still our goal and we’re not backing down from that." Carrying over the status quo isn't necessarily the worst thing that could happen to a team that's seen its share of ownership changes over the years. Mergers and partnerships with principals such as Ray Evernham, Robert Yates and George Gillett made the team a cauldron of uncertainty throughout the previous decade as it shrank from a four-car conglomerate to a two-car stable, but the past three years have marked a period of relative stability in both the ownership and driver lineup. The smooth seas at RPM took on more than a ripple last weekend with Ambrose's announcement that he'd return to his native Australia, leaving Petty's No. 9 Ford with a prominent vacancy for 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage. While Almirola, who signed a three-year contract extension with RPM back in January, awaits the team's next chapter, he expressed his gratitude for Ambrose's legacy and lasting contributions. "He was there a year before me, so he was there at probably its darkest hour with the Gillett split and bankruptcy and Richard putting a lot of his own money to keep the team alive, and going from four cars down to two," Almirola said. "Marcos has seen a lot of that company and helped build it to where it is today, and I'm extremely appreciative of that because I get to reap the benefits of that. I feel like I was a big part of that, but I came in a year later. He's probably been one of the best teammates that I've ever worked with. He's such a fun guy and a lot of fun to be around, and he's an extremely good race car driver." For the shorter term, Almirola and Co. need to regroup -- and fast -- to make their imprint in the Contender Round, the next three-race cut in the new-look Chase. Reaching that goal means turning it on in this Sunday's Sylvania 300 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN) and following up strong the next weekend's race at Dover International Speedway. While Almirola said he didn't think he'd need a win-or-else approach over the next two races to advance, he also knows a repeat of the 41st-place finish outside the Windy City last weekend would be devastating. The Chicago setback hasn't stopped the 30-year-old from crunching the numbers to see how he'll avoid being one of the four eliminated drivers after Dover . "All the guys on my team and myself included know that we've got to go out and for our best shot -- without winning, for our best shot to transfer we have to run top-five the next two weeks," Almirola said. "There's no doubt about it and we've got to hope that the guys that are already down in points run 20th-25th. I think right now we're 23 points out of 12th, so if we run fifth and Carl (Edwards) runs 20th, that's 15 points and that puts us within seven going to Dover . That makes it a reality getting to Dover , but we've got to take a big chunk out here." While it's small consolation now, Almirola said that engine builder Doug Yates pinpointed the broken exhaust valve that caused his No. 43 car to go up in smoke just 37 laps from the finish last weekend, saying that similar trouble befell fellow Ford drivers Joey Logano at Kentucky and Ambrose at Atlanta earlier in the year. Almirola was heartened by the fact that it was just his first engine-related failure to finish in his three years with the Petty group, but that the timing of the misfortune could not have been worse. "Of all weekends for it to happen the first race of the Chase," Almirola said, "Why could it have not happened at Atlanta or Richmond or wherever else, but it is what it is. It just wasn't meant to be. The stars didn't line up right for us at Chicago, but we’ll rebound." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Persistence, consistency pay off for Whelen Southern Modified Champ MORE: Seuss gets engaged in Victory Lane RELATED: Home Tracks " Learn more on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour CONCORD, N.C. -- For six seasons, Andy Seuss couldn't quite get over the hump in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour (NWSMT). He had six straight top-five finishes in the final standings to go with 15 victories coming into this season but the championship always seemed just out of reach. For some of those seasons, George Brunnhoelzl III was in his way, racking up four titles in six years (2009, 2011-13). Seuss finished as the runner-up to him in 2009 and 2011, but 2014 was a different story and it was Seuss' time to shine. Entering the Southern Slam 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , the NWSMT season finale, Seuss (pronounced "SICE") needed to finish 12th or better to clinch the title. He did better than that with a fifth-place effort to finish 14 points ahead of Brunnhoelzl to take home the championship, the first for the New Hampshire native. "It's very special to be the only people to dethrone the 28 team (Brunnhoelzl) because they've been so strong," Seuss said. "I'm sure they walk around thinking they have a target on their back because everyone shoots for them. We had a great end of last year and in the offseason, we gained even more. " From his season-opening win at Caraway, where he led the entire race, Seuss was dialed in. He won three of series' first five races and nearly led wire-to-wire in the point standings, as he was out of first place just one week. In his three victories, Seuss led 449 of a possible 450 laps. "We knew we had to come out of the gate swinging," Seuss said. Seuss showed remarkable consistency all season long, finishing in the top nine in all 14 races and never starting worse than seventh. Burt Myers, who secured the tour title in 2010 and won the race at Charlotte, said that Seuss performed well all year and that becoming a first-time champion is a tremendous accomplishment. "That's something to be proud of," Myers said. "It's something that nobody can ever take away from you. Like I said, it will get him later. That team has run good all year; they've run good in the past and it just came together for them this year." Seuss' title driving for car owner Ed Harvey was the capstone for the special bond the two have formed over the past four years together. "Andy has become like a little brother that I never had," Harvey said sitting with Seuss in the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Center. "And as far as I'm concerned, I've said it 100 times, I've put it out there in print, that red 11 car is Andy Seuss' ride as long as Andy Seuss wants that ride. If Andy decides to quit one day or move up one day or have the opportunity to move up, that's one thing. But until he tells me anything different, I've told him it's his ride for the rest of his life." The celebration and the evening took on an extra meaning for Seuss for several reasons. Just before joining the No. 11 team for Harvey, Seuss spent three seasons driving the No. 47 car for David Riggs, who was a longtime team owner in the Southern Modified Tour. Riggs passed away from a long battle with cancer in the days leading up to the season finale, something Seuss described as "heartbreaking." Seuss continued to use some of Riggs' cars while running for Harvey. Riggs quit his full-time racing operation after the 2010 season following the unexpected death of his son Jeff. "He gave me my big break when I went from running for our family, No. 70, to driving for a professional team," Seuss said of Riggs. "I think he really did help me the last few days. If nothing else, but he told me to ''shut up and drive' and not think. I couldn't think about it and it really, it was thrown at me a few times, but for the most part I didn't really wear the burden ... would've been awesome to have him here but really cool to dedicate it to him as well." Seuss' celebration also took on special significance of a romantic sort as he proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Jenn DeMarco, in Victory Lane at Charlotte. She said yes. "That's a pretty special deal," Seuss said. "I hadn't told anybody. Me and my mother had texted about it. We haven't even spoken about it. Maybe, because of the pressure I put on myself but I wanted it to be an extra special day with the championship. "My dad took the last two weeks off, traveling the whole country. We went up to Rhode Island to work on the chassis and back and forth and it was just the two of us in the truck. I feel terrible I didn't let him know. I know he knew through my mom but I couldn't get the words out because of just everything that this day meant." It was a night filled with lasting memories for Seuss and a night he won't soon forget . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView