Kevin Harvick ready to enjoy spotlight at NASCAR's championship gala

Kevin Harvick is taking in the 'new experience' of being the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion

Kevin Harvick is ready to be the toast of the town as NASCAR celebrates its series champions this week in Las Vegas.

Harvick is enjoying his first Sprint Cup Series title and, when asked what he anticipated in Las Vegas, he said, "I don't really know because everything is a new experience at this point."

The Bakersfield native, who captured the championship by winning the season-ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida on Nov. 16, was in Los Angeles on Monday for a round of media interviews before heading to Nevada.

But before he started his day in Los Angeles, Harvick and his crew chief Rodney Childers made the 20-minute flight north to Bakersfield so that Harvick could make a surprise stop -- with the Sprint Cup trophy in hand -- at North High School, his alma mater.

"I just felt like showing [the students] that they can achieve what they want to achieve, and following their dreams is something that's important because that's basically what happened [to me]," he said.

Harvick, 38, said one highlight of the Las Vegas trip will be reuniting with the crew members of his Stewart-Haas Racing team.

"I haven't seen anybody on my team except Rodney since we left the stage at Homestead," Harvick said. "I can't wait for the team dinner and the after-party to be able to just reminisce about the season. That's when it will really set in."

Harvick also acknowledged that "the magnitude of [winning the title] has been surprising for me because you just don't realize the impact of everything that we just accomplished. It's a new challenge, too, because now you have more responsibility of representing the sport."

Harvick and his wife, DeLana, also will be taking their 2-year-old son, Keelan, to enjoy the Las Vegas festivities and have fitted him with a tuxedo from Gucci.

"That is a long way from Bakersfield," Kevin Harvick said. "We've been fortunate."

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