Victory for the Fans in Las Vegas
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin Twitter and Instagram | MRN.com on December 5, 2013 | 10:00 P.M. EST
Thousands of fans lined the strip and got to witness the stars of the Chase perform two burnouts at the intersections out front of the Wynn and Planet Hollywood along with completing a pit stop for right-side tires out front of the Bellagio. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)
LAS VEGAS - NASCAR is in its fifth year celebrating Champion's Week in Las Vegas and each year it keeps getting bigger with one thing in mind - the fans.
Race fans are treated to many special experiences during the four days NASCAR is in town from exhibits, the Fan Fest on Fremont Street to the NASCAR After The Lap sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola driver-fan interaction event, which was held at The Pearl Palms Concert Theater inside the Palms Casino Hotel.
But one of the most anticipated events of the week is the Victory Lap where the drivers in the Chase of the NASCAR Sprint Cup get to take their cars down Las Vegas Boulevard. This year's route started and ended out front of Planet Hollywood and was run on both sides of the Boulevard with the turnaround being in front of the site of the awards banquet – The Wynn. Thousands of fans lined the strip and got to witness the stars of the Chase perform two burnouts at the intersections out front of the Wynn and Planet Hollywood along with completing a pit stop for right-side tires out front of the Bellagio.
On the day before he will be honored in the annual awards banquet, Jimmie Johnson led the way down the strip with Carl Edwards completing the top 13. Edwards ended the Victory Lap with a huge burnout and in the process took off the steering wheel and held it out the window.
"It's just amazing to drive down basically on a parade of NASCAR stock cars down Las Vegas Boulevard," Edwards said before performing the burnout. "It's wild. It's kind of surreal growing up racing at my local dirt track I never would of imagined being able to do this."
For Edwards this was the fourth time he has driven on the strip. His teammate Greg Biffle also missed the Chase once since NASCAR started coming to Vegas, which makes every trip down the Boulevard special.
"Anytime we get an opportunity to drive these cars on the street that's exciting for us," Biffle said. "we enjoy being able to show off our racecars and make a little noise, burn a little rubber. I think about it every time we do it that you are not guaranteed in the Chase every year and you think this could be the last year, or the last time I'm able to drive a Sprint Cup car down the Las Vegas strip. Being part of that is pretty neat."
Las Vegas resident Beth Petschauer was one of the fans in attendance and has not missed one Victory Lap yet. With the exception of one, Petschauer, who cheers for Jeff Gordon, has attended every Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway since the inaugural running in 1998 and also has been to Phoenix International Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway.
"Just the fact to get to have the cars and the drivers this close to us," Petschauer said about attending the Victory Lap. "It's really hard during race weekend to get to them so this gives us a chance to meet them and get stuff autographed and see what they do up close and personal."
Lined-up against the fence at the start as the drivers climbed into their cars, Petschauer was with her son Justin, who not only is a race fan, but enjoys competing on IRacing.com.
A majority of the cars were show cars with passenger seats placed in some. For Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne, the trip didn't go as planned with Busch blowing a head gasket in his No. 78 Chevrolet and Kasey Kahne nursing a smoking No. 5 Chevrolet to the finish line.
Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of the annual Sprint Cup Series Awards from Wynn Las Vegas on Friday at 8 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.