(Here’s the link if you are looking for Part 1 of Celebrating A Sprint Cup Champion…Vegas Style)
While ALL the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion’s Week festivities are fun- by far my favorite event is NASCAR After The Lap. This year the event was held at THE PEARL theater at The Palms- after the drivers did their victory lap and burn outs down the strip. While The Palms is off strip- I think that this was my favorites of the locations that they have held this event at so far. (The first several were held at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (also off-strip) with last year’s being held at Planet Hollywood).
This is my favorite event during the fan festivities of NASCAR Champion’s Week because it is the drivers on stage- just being themselves and interacting with each other, the moderator and the fans. I love it. It is also probably the event that I missed Tony Stewart at the most. This year the format for After The Lap was a little different. It shouldn’t surprise us since this year as been anything but an ordinary Sprint Cup year. This year the drivers were broken up into two groups. After talking with Misty and several fans after the event it seems that the fans preferred it when all the drivers were onstage together- yukking it up. I have to wonder though- if they didn’t break them up into two groups so that they didn’t have a repeat of last year’s Clint Bowyer show.
This year was also hosted by ESPN’s Marty Smith- who I think did a great job. Also different this year was the fact that the Champion’s crew chief made a small appearance (which I am certain secretly pleased Misty):
Initially it was a little strange only seeing half of the chase field up on stage at a time, I admit. But it seemed to bring Junior out of his shell a little more than normal- I think it was the most I have ever heard him talk. He talked about trying to find his first car- which was actually a Chevy s10 pickup (Tahoe package)- complete with that new fangled seek button that he was so proud of. He also discussed how he cured his addiction to Amazon.com by replacing it with an addiction to ebay.com as he quested to complete his collection of Circle Track magazine.
After The Lap ended by two “finalists” being paired with Ford drivers for the giving away of the Ford this year- it was a Raptor pickup- one of only 2000 in production. Finalist picked a key off of a board until one had found a key that said Winner. I liked that they made it more of a game of chance this year. I realize that Ford must sponsor After The Lap since they give away a Ford every year- but I think next season each of the manufacturers should give away a vehicle! Let’s make it more interesting!
While After The Lap was the final fan event- the banquet happened at the Wynn on Friday…and then it hit me- the NASCAR season is over. Come on 2014!
Stay tuned tomorrow for the NASCAR Champion’s Week Outtakes post.