Hear from all the top finishers talking about their run in Atlanta.
Kevin Harvick fights off Kyle Busch to win the Great Clips Grit Chips 300 in Atlanta.
Race shop hosts event to promote science, technology, engineering, math CORNELIUS, N.C. -- The questions weren't surprising and ranged from "how much do you make" to "how did you get interested in racing." Nothing too bizarre to start off, and with just enough feedback to keep the trip interesting and the attendees attentive. Last month, Michael Waltrip Racing and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brian Vickers hosted approximately 30 teenagers from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Charlotte (Mecklenburg and Union Counties). It was one of four events the organization took part in this year to help demonstrate the importance of STEM, an academic curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and math. According to the U.S. Department of Education ( www.ed.gov/stem ), "only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career. Even among those who do go on to pursue a college major in the STEM fields, only about half choose to work in a related career. The United States is falling behind internationally, ranking 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations." Following the screening of a short video and the open discussion, the teens, ranging in age from 13 to 18, toured the expansive facility where MWR personnel explained the engineering and safety aspects of today's Sprint Cup Series cars in a more hands-on setting. Vickers, a three-time winner in Sprint Cup and a former NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, said he has tried to tailor his approach to the interest of each individual group. "I wouldn't say it's changed it dramatically but certainly there are some things you learn as you go through the process," he said. "It's interesting. Every group is different, some are totally engaged, absolutely thought it was the coolest thing ever, especially the younger kids. The older groups, when you're in high school ... they want to pretend like they're not impressed even though they are. They're just that age where all their peers' opinions really matter so you have to really pull it out of them. "One mistake I made early on was just hammering science, technology, engineering and math. Because that's what it's about, right? I think it should be an integral part of it but the reality is you're not going to get 100 kids in one room and they all want to be engineers." The bigger picture, he said, was the opportunity to promote the value of getting an education. And that was the message he tried to impress upon the teens. "Something I have learned is that everyone here is intrigued by different things. Maybe it doesn't involve STEM, but maybe it does," he said. "What I would say to you is you should take your education seriously, but do something you love. Maybe it is working on race cars or building rockets or building skyscrapers, whatever. Maybe it's writing a play, or maybe it's being the next great artist. I don't know. "I'm not going to stand here and tell you that you need to be an engineer if that's not something that intrigues you. But I will tell you that your education is one of the most valuable assets you're going to have in your life." He doesn't undersell the importance of the STEM program, however. Integrating it with the Boys and Girls Clubs has been a success from the standpoint of providing youngsters with hands-on learning opportunities. In addition to the tour of the race shop, the teens were also the guests of the team at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "It works for us," Vickers said of the program. "Because that's what racing is about. It's engineering-based. One of the last ones we did was in Atlanta, and we got just some amazing responses. "Those kids were so engaged. They had these dreams, and yeah, some of them, a big group of them in fact, wanted to be engineers. We had two or three that really wanted to work on race teams. And one young boy wanted to be an architect, a couple wanted to be musicians. ... And that's great . "But to only talk about (engineering), I think, it doesn't go as well. So I've kind of opened it up a little bit more; still focus on that but talk to them about what do they want to do, what are they interested in?" So just how much does he earn? "I always get that question," he said, laughing. "I do pretty well."
Driver on heels of career-best finish in Nationwide Series Richard Childress Racing announced Tuesday that Mike Hillman Jr. will serve as crew chief for driver Brian Scott with the No. 2 Chevrolet team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series . Hillman, 36, won championships in the Camping World Truck Series with Todd Bodine in 2006 and 2010. Of his 20 wins in the truck tour, 19 came with Bodine and the other was delivered serving atop the pit box for Jeb Burton 's breakthrough victory in 2013. "This is a great opportunity for a guy like me to become part of RCR and the No. 2 Chevrolet team," Hillman said. "When we first talked about this position, I knew this was something I wanted to do and RCR is known for their storied success at every level in NASCAR. Brian Scott is a talented driver who is coming off the best season of his career. He and I share the same goals -- wanting to win multiple races and ultimately the XFINITY Series championship. With the team they already have in place, I am confident we will achieve our goals." Scott, 26, joined the Childress operation for the 2013 season and worked with crew chief Phil Gould the last two seasons in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, which will gain title sponsorship from XFINITY next year. Scott placed fourth in the overall standings, posting the best finish in his five full seasons in the series. "I look forward to building on what we have achieved the past two seasons with RCR," said Scott, who has five Coors Light Pole Awards but is still looking for his first victory in the series. "Mike Hillman Jr. is an excellent addition to our No. 2 Chevrolet team and has a proven track record of success and experience. I am more than confident he will take our team to Victory Lane and race for a championship. "We already have a great nucleus of people on our team and our XFINITY program is strong from top to bottom. With the momentum we had at the end of this past season, I feel confident about our 2015 hopes." Hillman, who starts his RCR tenure immediately, spent last season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on a part-time basis, working with a variety of drivers in 13 races with Circle Sport Racing's No. 33 team. One of those was Scott; the two got a jump on developing chemistry in the season-ending Sprint Cup race, where the two combined for a 28th-place finish. 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
Star of 'NCIS: Los Angeles' (Mondays, 8 p.m. ET/PT) on Jeff Gordon and more Born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, Eric Christian Olsen had just finished his freshman year of college in Michigan when, to help pay the bills, he moved to Los Angeles to try and get work in commercials. It wasn't long before Olsen's studies were put on hold to make room for acting gigs, not in commercials, but in big productions like "Not Another Teen Movie," "Dumb And Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd" and "The Thing." A 2010 guest spot on the CBS drama "NCIS: Los Angeles" led to a full-time spot for Olsen on the show, playing detective Marty Deeks, and the show's sixth season kicked off Sept. 29. An avid surfer, the 37-year-old actor lives in L.A. with his wife, actress Sarah Wright, and the couple's 1-year-old son, Wyatt. Getting The Call "I was shooting 'The Thing' in Toronto and had just gotten done with a scene where we were burning the aliens with flamethrowers. I was sweaty and exhausted when I got the call from 'NCIS' producers that they were going to pick up my option. 'Elated' doesn't do justice to how I felt. It's the closest thing that actors get to winning a race." Got What I Wanted "I love the combination of comedy and drama. In searching for a project to do, that's exactly what I wanted: a drama with action but also with comedic elements. That's why I liked the idea of playing Deeks; he captures all those genres." Table Reading "I'm sure it's just like NASCAR. The first time you get the call to the 'big leagues,' your heart is pumping so fast. It still pumps every time we do a table read, but now it's more of an appreciation versus a fear." Serenity Now "There's a moment when you come off the freeway, which is jam-packed, and onto Pacific Coast Highway. It's just ocean as far as your eye can see. There is a peace in that and an escape from the claustrophobia of L.A. traffic." My Hideaway "It's a barn on 40 acres in Idaho. My mom, dad, brother and my wife and I redid it together. We go up there every summer for a month. It's a chance to get away and recharge your batteries. There's one traffic light in the whole town." Daddy-O "Fatherhood has exceeded all of my expectations -- and I set the bar pretty high as far as what I thought this experience was going to be. I studied child psychology in college, and I intellectualized what fatherhood would be like, but it is more fun than anything that I could have ever imagined. There is a whole new realm of love that I didn't know I was capable of." Sound Reasoning "Simon and Garfunkel is what I grew up on, and my wife and I walked down the aisle to 'For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her.' It's one of my favorite songs of all time. I think Radiohead's 'OK Computer' is one of the best albums ever made." 'Wonder Boy' "To me, Jeff Gordon is one of the most successful athletes of all time -- in any sport. He got started in NASCAR in the 1990s and is still one of the best drivers. I don't know if there is anyone else who has been that consistently great in their sport." SUBSCRIBE NOW!
On the eve of Veterans Day weekend, NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France and his wife Amy helped raise more than $6 million on Wednesday at "Stand Up for Heroes" in New York City in support of post-9/11 injured service members, veterans and their families through the Bob Woodruff Foundation. It was the latest in a long line of examples of NASCAR going beyond the call for America's troops. The Frances and another party bid and won a special auction with items and experiences from rock 'n roll legend Bruce Springsteen. The package includes a signed guitar and an hour guitar lesson from Springsteen, who also will provide a homemade lasagna dinner and a motorcycle ride in Springsteen's side car with "The Boss" driving. This year's event surpassed expectations, besting last year's record $5 million total. Springsteen helped raise $600,000 alone with the Frances and the other party committing $ 300 ,000 apiece to the Stand Up for Heroes Fund. NASCAR has a long track record of supporting the U.S. military, dating back to its roots. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. began a tradition that continues to this day of recognizing Medal of Honor winners before the July 4th race at Daytona International Speedway . In June, NASCAR marked the fifth anniversary of its Troops to the Track presented by Bank of America initiative. Thousands of troops from local military installations across the country have been treated to customized VIP experiences which include garage tours, driver meet-and-greets and recognition during the drivers' meeting, among many other special-access activities. "NASCAR: An American Salute" is an annual tribute to the men and women who fight for our freedom. Beginning Memorial Day weekend in Charlotte through Fourth of July weekend in Daytona, teams, sponsors, tracks, the sanctioning body and its stakeholders sport special red, white and blue paint schemes and host military members and their families throughout the summer. On this Veterans Day weekend as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup heads to Phoenix International Raceway , the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will run the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 as veterans, active military members and their families will be honored throughout the weekend. Like every weekend on the NASCAR schedule, the patriotic pre-race ceremony will feature an honor guard, a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and a military flyover. "It's in our DNA," NASCAR President Mike Helton said, "to help military families understand how grateful we are and to encourage our fans to do the same thing; it's evolved with the sport. Bill France Jr. and certainly Bill (France) Sr. were adamant about NASCAR being a voice to remind everybody that there were men and women who were making sacrifices so that we had the opportunity to do the things that we enjoy. "And a lot of it had to do with the fact that (France Sr.) created NASCAR right after World War II ... he had a very direct purpose behind it. "But that culture was passed on and handed down; as NASCAR grew, that responsibility grew with it." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Denny Darnell left lasting impression on those in the racing community