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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Kevin Harvick finally climbs to NASCAR’s summit


LAS VEGAS – Two years ago, Kevin Harvick was evaluating his life. He and his wife, DeLana, had welcomed a son, their only child. They’d sold their race team and began to prioritize what really mattered to their growing family.

Harvick wanted two things: to be happy, and to race for championships.

So he took a gamble and left Richard Childress Racing, the only NASCAR team he’d ever known, and agreed to drive for good friend Tony Stewart in 2014.

Now, he is the new Sprint Cup champion, with his family, Stewart and a dedicated crew chief helping him reach racing’s summit. Harvick’s first career Cup title was celebrated Friday night at NASCAR’s annual season-ending awards ceremony.

The weeklong celebration culminated on Friday. For the 12th straight year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was named the NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver. Earnhardt, who finished eighth in the final standings, began posting on Twitter this year after his victory in the 2014 Daytona 500 and talked about how gratifying it was to see his timeline explode with tweets from fans who said they had voted for him as Most Popular Driver.

 One of the most touching moments of the evening was the awarding of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award to Daniel Noltemeyer, a founder of the Best Buddies of Kentucky, an organization dedicated to facilitating the social inclusion of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

Noltemeyer, who has Down syndrome, has become an enthusiastic ambassador for Best Buddies International. One of four national finalists, Noltemeyer received a $100,000 grant for his charity as the winner of the award, which was conferred for the fourth year.

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