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Day One: NASCAR Champion’s Week In Las Vegas Officially Begins

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By Paul Johnson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) – Jimmie Johnson’s four-day, Las Vegas whirlwind odyssey has begun. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week™ in Las Vegas officially is underway.

The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ champion’s rounds of Las Vegas media outlets began early Tuesday with interviews with a pair of top-rated rock and country music radio stations; CBS, FOX and Univision television outlets; MRN Radio and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The FOX studio boasts a NASCAR-themed slot machine, at which celebrities are invited to try their luck – all in the name of charity. Johnson hit a $250 jackpot to which he added $300 for donation to the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation.

Johnson also participated in a Q&A session at the 2013 NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum and then visited the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign at the south end of the famed Las Vegas Strip where he signed autographs for waiting fans.

Tuesday’s activities wound down with a round of photos and the annual Champion’s Dinner with NASCAR President Mike Helton and others. The action-packed week culminates with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards™ (Dec. 6, with FOX Sports 2 and NASCAR.com providing coverage beginning at 9 p.m. ET; Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 at 8 p.m. ET).

It’s been three years since Johnson celebrated a championship in Las Vegas although as a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ contender he attended the 2011-12 ceremonies. That obviously motivated Johnson to return to the head table – which he’s now done six times.

“Winning races does it all,” he told NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum attendees. “That is my focus and my brand. What is next, (that’s) what keeps you motivated.”

That Johnson is one championship away from matching the record seven NASCAR Sprint Cup titles won by NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt figured prominently in questions Johnson fielded during the day’s events.

He admitted to still being a bit overwhelmed by his success.

“I never could have dreamed this big; when I hear my name mentioned alongside Petty and Earnhardt,” he said. “It still feels surreal.”

Champion’s Week activities for Johnson began Monday in Los Angeles where the Californian visited the FOX Sports campus. He appeared on FOX Sports 1’s FOX Sports Live and taped segments with The OT and UFC Tonight, the latter slated to air at 7 p.m. ET, on Wednesday, Dec. 4. A sit-down interview with FOX’s Curt Menefee also will be broadcast at a later date.
Before flying to Los Angeles, Johnson and his crew chief Chad Knaus visited the corporate headquarters of the No. 48 team’s sponsor Lowe’s in Mooresville, N.C., where they presented the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship trophy to a large crowd of associates.

Here are upcoming Champion’s Week events at a glance (all times local PT unless noted):

Wednesday, Dec. 4
• 2013 NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum: The 14th annual NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum, presented by SportsBusiness Daily / Global / Journal, is the motorsports industry’s most comprehensive business forum. Held at Aria Resort & Casino, the Forum will provide a 360-degree overview of motorsports by featuring insight and perspective from sports and marketing executives both within and outside the motorsports industry. Registration is required at www.MotorsportsMarketingForum.com.

Wednesday – Friday, Dec. 4-6
• NASCAR Pit Stop Tour: The NASCAR Pit Stop Tour consists of Official Partner show cars featured in iconic locations throughout the Las Vegas Strip from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. each day. Fans can get up close and personal with the cars at the following locations: Tropicana (Chevrolet), The Palazzo (Ford), Harrah’s (Ford), the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign (2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion show car), the Coca-Cola store and M&M’S World.

• M&M’S® To Make the NASCAR CHAMPION’S WEEK™ ‘BETTER WITH M’: M&M’S will celebrate the 2013 NASCAR season and the strongest finish yet for Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota Camry, by giving away one million free bags of M&M’S. The giveaway in Las Vegas will be part of the NASCAR Pit Stop Tour and NASCAR Victory Lap.

Wednesday, Dec. 4
• Fanfest Presented by Las Vegas Motor Speedway: The fifth annual LVMS Fanfest will again be held at the Fremont Street Experience, and begin at 1:30 p.m. with the arrival of the 13 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. This event is free to the public and will consist of a red carpet walk by the 13 drivers, followed by a special “game show format” on-stage event featuring the drivers. Race fans will have the chance to win two tickets to the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards to be held two nights later at Wynn Las Vegas.

• Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Reception: This year’s finalists for the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award will be honored at a reception at Wynn Las Vegas from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. The NASCAR Foundation will announce the award winner during this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards on Friday, Dec. 6. Fans can cast their vote for the 2013 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award winner by visiting www.NASCAR.com/award before 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 5.

Thursday, Dec. 5
• NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon: The annual awards luncheon and industry gathering will be held from 11 a.m. – 1:15 p.m. in the Encore Ballroom at Wynn Las Vegas, where several team and individual awards will be presented. Among those awards included are the Champion Sponsor, Champion Crew Chief, Sunoco Rookie of the Year and NMPA Most Popular Driver awards. The event will be live-streamed on www.NASCAR.com.

• NASCAR Victory Lap: The green flag on the fan-favorite NASCAR Victory Lap will wave at 3:30 p.m. with pre-lap festivities beginning at 2:45 p.m., when the 13 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers parade down Las Vegas Boulevard in their race cars. NASCAR Victory Lap will start and finish in front of the Miracle Mile Shops on Las Vegas Boulevard and will once again provide fans with a unique experience to feel the excitement of NASCAR, featuring driver introductions, an authentic pit stop in front of the Fountains of Bellagio (performed by members of the NASCAR Drive
for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program Presented by Sprint) and two burnout sections – with viewing areas along the route. Portions of the event will be broadcast live on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and www.NASCAR.com will live-stream the event.

• NASCAR After The Lap sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola: One of the premier events of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week, NASCAR After The Lap sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola will be held from 5 – 6:30 p.m. at The Pearl Palms Concert Theater inside the Palms Casino Hotel. Fans can purchase tickets at www.NASCARAfterTheLap.com for $20 each (all ticket proceeds benefit The NASCAR Foundation) to attend the fan-favorite event featuring all 13 Chase
for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. Among the many highlights from NASCAR After The Lap’s humorous history are Jeff Gordon break dancing and Denny Hamlin doing “The Dougie.” The event will be broadcast live on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 and www.NASCAR.com will live-stream the event.

Friday, Dec. 6
• 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards: The postseason black-tie event will begin at 5 p.m. at Wynn Las Vegas, where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion driver and owner will be crowned and the top-10 drivers in the final standings will be honored. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards, the culmination of Champion’s Week, will feature the NASCAR Fan Reception, Red Carpet Walk, celebrity guests, music and entertainment. FOX Sports 2, www.NASCAR.com, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 will provide coverage of the event.


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