Busy Week For Champ

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Although Kurt Busch already has earned the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series championship, he'll get a taste of what it's like to celebrate it this week in New York.

It's time for NASCAR's annual Champion's Week festivities in the Big Apple, and Busch, who is enjoying his first NASCAR Nextel Cup title, is only the latest champion to be officially crowned in New York. NASCAR has feted its premier-series champion in New York City since 1981, and Busch, who drives for Roush Racing, is following in teammate Matt Kenseth's footsteps; Kenseth celebrated his first NASCAR Nextel Cup title during 2003 Champion's Week.

So it's back to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for championship-winning car owner Jack Roush, and its venerable Park Ave., stage is set for Busch. At age 26, Busch represents a season of firsts – the first season of series sponsorship for Nextel, the first year of the "Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup," the new method of crowning a champion, and many other new twists on and off the track.

He'll be busy this week with media events, a charity endeavor, appearances on national morning shows, many photo shoots and a visit to a New York fire department training facility. The fourth-year driver from Las Vegas, Nev., will cap his Champion's Week schedule with Friday evening's awards ceremony in the Waldorf's historic Grand Ballroom.

En route, Busch will engage in some traditional NASCAR Nextel Cup champion activities: Friday afternoon's traditional team photo in front of the Waldorf's main entrance is one such tradition. Another is Thursday morning's photo opportunity in Times Square with the champion's show car at 8:30 a.m. Following that activity, Busch will join NASCAR Chairman Brian France and Nextel's Tim Donahue to open NASDAQ at 9:15 a.m.

Another highlight: On Friday, a group photo of Busch, NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr., NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton along with NASCAR's weekly and touring champions will be taken at 11:30 a.m., at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum at Pier 86. All 11 champions will be pictured together against one of Manhattan's landmark vistas.

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