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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)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Cheerios Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eleventh position, Thursday, May 21, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Dillon is 25th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. All 43 drivers will be participating in
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser PrecisionChevrolet SS, qualifies for tenth position, Thursday, May 21, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Truex, Jr. is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. All 43 drivers will be participating in
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, qualifies for ninth position, Thursday, May 21, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Larson is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. All 43 drivers will be participating in
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eighth position, Thursday, May 21, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. All 43 drivers will be participating in
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.CPL Steven R. Koch, US Army, is honored on the car as part of the 600 Miles of Remembrance program. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Landon Cassill, driver of the #40 Snap Fitness Chevrolet, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, sits in his car prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Johnson’s car features Army 1st Lt. Robert L. Henderson II as part of the 600 Miles of Rememberance.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, stands on the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, poses with Miss Coors Light Amanda Mertz after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. HM3 James R Layton is honored on the car as part of the 600 Miles of Remembrance program. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, takes the green flag to start the NASCAR XFinity Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 17, 2015 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Ford EcoBoost Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFinity Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 17, 2015 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Roush Performance Products Ford, leads Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, during the NASCAR XFinity Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 17, 2015 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, leads Erik Jones, driver of the #20 Interstate Batteries Toyota, during the NASCAR XFinity Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 17, 2015 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Roush Performance Products Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning during the NASCAR XFinity Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 17, 2015 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Roush Performance Products Ford Mustang Ford, takes the chequered flag in the NASCAR XFinity Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 17, 2015 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Roush Performance Products Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFinity Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 16, 2015 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Photo by Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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