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NASCAR Champion’s Week gets early start in Las Vegas

Updated November 27, 2017 - 1:09 pm

Usually jumping the start in NASCAR results in one being sent to the pits for a stop-and-go penalty.

That won’t be the case with NASCAR Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, which this year switches to a Tuesday through Thursday format instead of the traditional Wednesday through Friday of years past.

One thing that hasn’t changed: the schedule will be more hectic than a late-race restart, culminating with Thursday’s NASCAR Awards at Wynn Las Vegas at 5 p.m. NBCSN will televise.

The man of the hour — of a lot of hours — in Las Vegas this week will be Martin Truex Jr., who held off Kyle Busch of Las Vegas to win his first Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 19. NASCAR bills it as “an evening of stars, sharp style, music and celebration to honor the 2017 champion.”

Two marquee events leading up to Thursday’s tuxedo-fest will be Wednesday’s Victory Lap Fueled by Sunoco on the Strip, originating at Toshiba Plaza at T-Mobile Arena, and NASCAR After the Lap at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

You never know what might happen at After the Lap, during which Cup Series playoff drivers poke fun at each other during bawdy, loosely moderated interviews. Who could forget Jeff Gordon break dancing on stage in 2011, except possibly Gordon himself?

NASCAR pit road reporter and Las Vegas native Jamie Little said Champion’s Week is a great way for NASCAR to blow off steam after a grueling season that begins in February and ends in November.

“NASCAR has the longest season of all of the sports, and after the blood, sweat and tears, just being in Las Vegas is a real good deal for the drivers, teams, owners and those who cover the sport,” said Little, who will host Wednesday’s Myers Brothers Awards luncheon and announce the winner of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award at Thursday’s Awards ceremony.

“It’s time to celebrate the sport and a brand new champion.”

Champion’s Week schedule

Tuesday

— NASCAR Fan HQ at The Park, 1-8 p.m.

— NASCAR Fan Lounge at Beerhaus, The Park, 1-8 p.m.

— NASCAR Drivers Autograph Session (Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr.), NASCAR Fan HQ, The Park, 3-4:30 p.m.

— Champion’s Week Kickoff, Beerhaus at The Park (NASCAR Cup Series, Xfinity Series, Truck Series champion appearances), 6-7:30 p.m.

— Appreci88tion, An Evening with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Rose Rabbit, Lie at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 9-10:30 p.m.

Wednesday

— NASCAR Fan HQ at The Park, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

— NASCAR Fan Louge at Beerhaus, The Park, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

— NASCAR Autograph Session (Xfinity and Truck Series champions), NASCAR Fan HQ, The Park, 1 p.m.

— NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards, Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas, 10:30 a.m.-noon.

— Victory Lap Fueled by Sunoco, the Strip/Toshiba Plaza t T-Mobile Arena, 2:30-5 p.m.

— NASCAR After the Lap (Supporting Vegas Strong), The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 8-11 p.m.

Thursday

— NASCAR Fan HQ at The Park, 11 a.m-8 p.m. (Appearances by Leonard Wood, Dale Jarrett and the Suncoo Rookie of the Year at 12:30, 1 and 1:30 p.m.)

— NASCAR Fan Lounge at Beerhaus, The Park, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

— NASCAR Drivers Autograph Session, (Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman), NASCAR Fan HQ, The Park, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

— Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards Red Carpet, Wynn Las Vegas, 4:30-5:30 p.m.

— Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards, Wynn Las Vegas, 5:30 p.m.

Information: NASCAR.com

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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