Harvick pays tribute to military during visit to Nellis Air Force Base

From NASCAR

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.”

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