EMPORIA, Kansas -

On Wednesday Kansas native Clint Bowyer walked the halls of Emporia High School for the first time since he graduated in 1998 “a free man.” But his heart never left the school or his hometown.

“There’s a lot of great memories. I mean everyone remembers high school, it’s some of the most fun times you have in life,” said Bowyer. “ To come back and see some of the changes and more importantly a lot of things are still the same. The gymnasium is still the same and a lot of the teachers are still here and huge supporters of mine.”

The trip back his high school was part of a sponsor appearance urging students not to text and drive.

“We didn’t have this problem when we were kids,” said Bowyer. “The worst thing about watching the news is it seems like every day there is some kid or somebody that is either causing a crash or being killed in an automobile accident over something as simple as a text. It's just stupid.”

But Bowyer also talked to students about chasing their dreams. He told them about being a skinny kind of outcast kid who didn’t go to prom, because he was too busy chasing his dream of racing.

“I’m living proof that it can happen right here in Emporia, Kansas. Right here at Emporia High School,” said Bowyer.

Right now, a lot is happening for the Kansas Kid. On Monday he announced he has signed a contract extension at Michael Waltrip Racing and that he would soon be a father. That was an announcement that caught many of Bowyer’s friends off guard a bit.

“I get these phone calls from all my buddies like what's wrong with you? You're growing up, you’re really,  really are growing up,” joked Bowyer. “So went down and got married and just found out we're having a little boy and pretty exciting time. I got my sponsor on board and a long term commitment out of MWR so it's going to be a good thing.”

Bowyer is also coming off his best finish of the season, a third at Talladega on Sunday. And he hopes to propel that success to a good showing this weekend at his home track. Maybe even that allusive victory at the Kansas Speedway.

“I knew that I was signed up before that race started on Sunday,” said Bowyer. “(The contract) is just a huge burden off my shoulders and relief. Just go out there and compete not a worry in the world and look what happens. I expect nothing less this weekend.”