Champion's Week, day three report

Champion's Week, day three report
Dec 2, 2005, 5:33 AM

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion's Week Presented by Sprint - Day 3 * Victory Lap: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series takes to the city streets * On Deck: New York Stock Exchange opening and NASCAR Press Conference on Thursday NEW YORK (Nov. 30, 2005) ...

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion's Week Presented by Sprint - Day 3

* Victory Lap: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series takes to the city streets

* On Deck: New York Stock Exchange opening and NASCAR Press Conference on Thursday

NEW YORK (Nov. 30, 2005) -- Midtown Manhattan traffic got a new look on Wednesday morning, when 10 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series cars rumbled through the streets for the "NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Victory Lap presented by Sprint."

The promotion featured a parade of the top 10 cars, with their drivers in full uniforms. The Victory Lap began at Rockefeller Center, where the drivers were interviewed on NBC's The Today Show. The drivers passed through Times Square and a few side streets before finishing at 375 Park Avenue, the site of NASCAR's New York office.

The Victory Lap was a highlight of "NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion's Week presented by Sprint", which celebrates the 2005 season and concludes Friday with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series awards banquet at the historic Waldorf=Astoria Hotel.

With a police escort, the drivers navigated the route in about 20 minutes. Fan viewing areas were staged along the streets and the drivers were welcomed at the finish by a large gathering of fans and media.

Among the top 10 drivers was veteran Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), who finished eighth in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings for his best finish in the point standings since 2002. When Wallace won the 1989 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title, the banquet was held in New York -- but a procession of race cars through the streets was unheard of.

"It's the last awards banquet for me as a driver," said Wallace "It's kind of bittersweet. It feels good to be in the top 10 in the last year I'm going to run. It's been a great career."

According to NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Marketing Steve Phelps, who oversees the sanctioning body's New York office, the event signified NASCAR's ever-growing presence in New York.

"NASCAR has been celebrating our champion in New York City for 25 years," said Phelps. "We've had our corporate marketing headquarters here since 1998. On any given weekend, New York is one of NASCAR's biggest markets, with fans as passionate as anywhere. The sport's fans in New York deserve a special treat and we're grateful to Sprint Nextel and our top 10 'Chasers,' the New York City Sports Commission, the City's Department of Transportation, and New York's Finest for helping to bring these loyal fans another unforgettable Victory Lap."

As Champion's Week draws to a close, the schedule intensifies with two major media events and the awards banquet on Friday evening. The following is an overview of Thursday and Friday morning's events:

NASCAR opens NYSE ... At 8:45 Thursday morning, The New York Stock Exchange will share in the Champion's Week activities. The top 10 drivers, Sprint Nextel Chairman Tim Donahue and NASCAR Chief Operating Office George Pyne will ring the bell to start the trading day at the New York Stock Exchange. France to deliver 'State of the Sport' address ... NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France will address the media during NASCAR's annual press conference and luncheon, Thursday afternoon at Cipriani on 42nd Street. France will share his thoughts on the recently-completed racing season and will be available for a question and answer session with the media. Tim Donahue will also address the media, discussing his company's second year as title sponsor of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) and the rest of the top 10 drivers along with Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet), NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) will be available for media interviews at this event.

Champions gathering ... It's Stewart's week to celebrate his second championship, but he isn't the only title-winner in town. Along with national series champions Stewart, Truex and Musgrave, the 2005 champions from each of the NASCAR's regional touring series and the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series are in New York. They're enjoying a VIP experience and are scheduled to attend the awards ceremony on Friday. The champions, including Andy Santerre (Busch North Series), Mike Duncan (West Series), Tony Hirschman (Whelen Modified Tour), Junior Miller (Whelen Southern Modified Tour), Justin Diercks (Midwest Series), Jeff Jefferson (Northwest Series), Jeff Fultz (Southeast Series), Jim Pettit II (Southwest Series) and Peyton Sellers (NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series) will join Stewart, Truex and Musgrave for the annual NASCAR champion's group photo, on Thursday at Cipriani. It is the only time during the year when all of NASCAR's champions are brought together.

Star-studded breakfast ... Friday's schedule begins with the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) / Myers Brothers Breakfast, in the Starlight Room at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. The event kicks off the final day of Champion's Week with several special award presentations -- which altogether represent over $750,000 in prize money. The awards include: Budweiser Pole Award (Ryan Newman, No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge), Clevite Engine Builder Award (Mark Cronquist, Joe Gibbs Racing), Checkers/Rally's Double Drive-Thru Challenge Award (Ryan Newman), Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award (Tony Stewart), MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award (Tony Stewart), Mechanix Wear Pit Crew of the Year Award (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet crew), Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Year Award (Ryan Newman), Commit Lozenges Commit to Win Award (Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), WIX Filters Lap Leader Award (Tony Stewart), USG Improving the Finish Award (Elliott Sadler, No. 38 M&M's Ford) and the Sunoco Diamond Performance Award (Tony Stewart). Two award winners have yet to be announced and will be unveiled on Friday morning: the Chex Cereals Most Popular Driver Award and the NMPA's Myers Brothers Award.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony

Where: Grand Ballroom, The Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, New York City.

When: 7-10:30 p.m. (ET). Friday, Dec. 2.

TV: TNT, 9 p.m. (ET & PT).

Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.

Final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Tony Stewart 6,533. 2. Greg Biffle 6,498. 3. Carl Edwards 6,498. 4. Mark Martin 6,428. 5. Jimmie Johnson 6,406. 6. Ryan Newman 6,359. 7. Matt Kenseth 6,352. 8. Rusty Wallace 6,140. 9. Jeremy Mayfield 6,073. 10. Kurt Busch 5,974.

11th-place driver: Jeff Gordon.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year: Kyle Busch.

Special Guest: Comedian Jay Mohr.

Musical Entertainment: Singers Toni Braxton and Gavin DeGraw; Jazz pianist Eric Lewis.


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