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NASCAR and Vegas are the perfect fit

Las Vegas emerges as the ideal location for NASCAR to host its end of season celebrations
If you were to pick the most significant change in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, it would be difficult to argue against the midseason move to double-file restarts.

From an image standpoint, however, NASCAR's decision to move the site of its annual Champion's Week festivities from New York to Las Vegas may have as much long-term impact as the new restart format did on the competition side.

NASCAR had worn out its welcome in Manhattan. In recent years, the Christmas tree lightning at Rockefeller Centre drew more attention in the first week of December than did NASCAR's top stars. More than anything else, NASCAR's victory lap around Times Square drew complaints about snarled traffic from jaded New Yorkers.

That certainly wasn't the case in Las Vegas, where the victory lap along the Strip drew throngs of fans decorated in the regalia of their favourite drivers.

Denny Hamlin, for one, noted a sharp contrast between NASCAR's reception in New York vs. the one in Las Vegas.

“It's not as stiff, I guess you could say, with it being relaxed like it is,” Hamlin said of the Vegas experience. “I think everyone's just having a little bit more fun with it.”

For one thing, Las Vegas has something that never materialised in the New York area — a racetrack. On Wednesday of Champion's Week, Las Vegas Motor Speedway welcomed more than 1,000 fans to an autograph session and roast of four-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.

With all twelve Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers participating, the roast — under the direction of comedian Kevin Burke — turned into a free-for-all, with the Chase drivers throwing barbs at each other, as well as at Johnson.

Jeff Gordon brought the house down with a shot at Carl Edwards.

“I can tell you that marrying a pretty girl and having a baby is a great cover,” said Gordon, whose falloff in performance on the track during 2008 was the subject of speculation that the demands of fatherhood had softened his competitive resolve.

Edwards, who won nine races in 2008, married Kate Downey in January. In 2009, he failed to win a race. The couple is expecting its first child in February.




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“Mr. Las Vegas,” entertainer Wayne Newton, holds the green flag to start the Victory Lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week on Thursday in Las Vegas. The top 12 Sprint Cup drivers took to Las Vegas Boulevard in their cars for a parade lap for fans. (David Becker/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NSACAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Chevrolet, celebrates with his crew after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ty Dillon, driver of the #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying first for the NASCAR Nationwide Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, leads a line of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Will Schneekloth/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, leads the field at the start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 20, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS qualified for sixth position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS qualified for third position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Harvick is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS qualified for second position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates setting the pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, speaks at a press conference following practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, smiles at Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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