NASCAR and Las Vegas are an unlikely pair, but when NASCAR is celebrating Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, anything is possible. Known as NASCAR’s year-end party, Champion’s Week is a celebration of the season and all 16 drivers that made it to The Chase, NASCAR’s playoff. Events surrounding NASCAR Champion Week include: the Sports Business Journal’s Motorsports Marketing Forum; NASCAR’s National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon; NASCAR Victory Lap where fans get an up-close view of the 16 drivers from The Chase doing burnouts on Las Vegas Blvd; NASCAR After the Lap which features the drivers on stage answering questions in candid interviews, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards, a black-tie event. NASCAR also has a fan lounge set-up at Beerhaus presented by Coors Light at The Park.
As a huge fan of NASCAR, this year’s Champion’s Week was bittersweet. I had promised at the beginning of the season that if Tony Stewart made The Chase, I would be front and center for the celebration. I’m always game to be a part of all things NASCAR, but more importantly, there was no way I was going to miss Tony Stewart aka ‘Smoke’s last hooray as a driver. I traveled to Las Vegas for one last Tony Stewart adventure and it was well worth it. Here is what happened.
There were several heavy hitters on hand, but the highlight for Tam was the featured interviews. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson took to the stage on day one of the conference with guest moderator Holly Cain, a reporter with NASCAR.com. On the second day, 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series Champion Daniel Suarez sat down with Fox NASCAR Pit Reporter Jamie Little for a very entertaining talk. IndyCar stars Scott Dixon (Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series Champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 Winner), Tony Kanaan (2013 Indianapolis 500 Winner and 2004 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion), and Alexander Rossi (2016 Indianapolis 500 Winner) also graced the stage for “A Conversation with the Stars of IndyCar.”
Immediately after the Indy Champs hit the stage, we raced down Las Vegas Blvd to pick up our Champion’s Week credentials. NASCAR hosted the Myers Brothers Luncheon at the Wynn Encore and it was imperative that we were on hand to see all 16 Chase drivers in the media room following the luncheon. Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Mr. 7x Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joe Logano, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, and Kevin Harvick were present and available to answer our questions. We didn’t ask them everything, but Tam and Rene did sneak in a few questions with some of the young drivers.
After talking to three of our Fantastic 4 drivers, we rushed down to the middle of the strip for Victory Lap. Victory Lap is when all 16 drivers get in their cars and do burnouts down Las Vegas Blvd. And yes, Las Vegas shuts down for NASCAR!
Last, but not least, and certainly the best part is when we hightailed it off the strip over to the Palms Casino for NASCAR’s After The Lap event where all 16 drivers sat on stage and had a ball. Rutledge Wood and the chef, the author, the man with the blonde spiked hair, Guy Fieri, hosted it. We knew it was going to be a good time, but we could not imagine it was going to go down as a legendary night. Can you say, “Pass the Patrón!”
It was the Tony Stewart Show. He completely took over and made it so much fun. All the drivers seemed to follow his lead. Even the designated hosts would have happily traded their jobs with Smoke for the evening. He hosted and roasted the entire show. The crowd LOVED it! We had so much fun and easily could have sat there and listened to Smoke all night. We really could have.
To read the rest of my NASCAR adventures in Las Vegas and see all my photos, take the jump over to Ready. Set. NASCAR. Champion’s Week. (50 Photos).