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Carlos Contreras returns to national NASCAR stage

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Hispanic driver Carlos Contreras is planning a return to NASCAR national-level competition in 2014, competing in several Nationwide Series races throughout the season from behind the wheel of the No. 15 Ford entry of Rick Ware Racing, according to an announcement on Monday from the race team.

"I'm really excited to be back in NASCAR, racing for Rick Ware and RWR," Contreras said. "I'm going to make the most of this new opportunity, do my best and chase down that 100th race, a personal goal I set for myself a few years ago."

Contreras already has 87 of those 100 starts under his belt and hopes the milestone race will come this year. His first race will be Saturday's season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

"I am very excited to have Carlos driving the No. 15 for Rick Ware Racing and proud to have RaceTrac convenience stores and Global Aircraft Solutions on board with us for Speedweek at Daytona," Ware said.

Contreras also plans on running the second race of the season at Phoenix International Raceway on March 1. Other races on his 2014 schedule include Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.; both races at Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth; the second Daytona race in July; and the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, in addition to the three Nationwide Series road course events at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Contreras is a seven-time champion in Mexico. He was the first Hispanic driver to compete in NASCAR at the national level with his Truck Series debut at Auto Club Speedway in 1999. Beginning in 2000, Contreras competed full-time in the Truck Series for three seasons and then raced part-time in the Nationwide Series from 2003 until 2007.

His most recent NASCAR national race was a truck event in 2010, in which he finished 14th. More recently, Contreras has been focused on NASCAR's Mexico Series.

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