Chill beaters: NASCAR stars brave cold to meet fans in Vegas
Despite frigid temperatures in Las Vegas, the arrival of the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series warmed things up considerably Wednesday afternoon, with the fifth annual Las Vegas Motor Speedway Fanfest at the funky and eclectic Fremont Street Experience in historic downtown Las Vegas.
There, six lucky fans got to compete in the NASCAR version of "Deal Or No Deal," with the drivers holding simulated briefcases with prizes in them and the contestants trying to guess which drivers had the good prizes — VIP experiences for next March’s NASCAR weekend at LVMS — and which ones had lesser prizes like hats and bumper stickers.
It was a whimsical affair, and ultimately all six contestants won tickets to the NASCAR weekend, while the drivers tried to stay warm on the outdoor stage, where temperatures were in the high 30s.
Reigning and six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said he was having fun in Sin City after a couple of nights of revelry.
"I’ve had two good nights here," Johnson said. "I’m happy to be on my feet today. Just had a beer backstage to just kind of balance things out and all is good."
The chilly weather didn’t seem to bother the huge crowd of race fans who turned out for the event.
The action heats up further today with several preliminary events prior to Friday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Banquet.
First up is the NASCAR National Motorsports Press Association Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon at the Wynn Las Vegas. During this annual event, a number of awards will be presented, including the Champion Sponsor, Champion Crew Chief, Sunoco Rookie of the Year and NMPA Most Popular Driver awards. The real drama here is whether Danica Patrick be the one to finally knock Dale Earnhardt Jr. off as the sport’s most popular driver.
Then, at 5:45 p.m. ET, come the preliminary festivities for the NASCAR Victory Lap. At 6:30 p.m. ET, the 13 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers parade down Las Vegas Boulevard in their race cars in front of the Miracle Mile Shops on the boulevard. Included will be a pit stop performed by members of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Pit Crew Development Program Presented by Sprint, which takes place in front of the Fountains of Bellagio.
Then, it’s the hugely popular NASCAR After The Lap sponsored by Ford and Coca-Cola from 8-9:30 p.m. ET at The Pearl Palms Concert Theater inside the Palms Casino Hotel. Fans can purchase tickets at www.NASCARAfterTheLap.com for $20 each (all ticket proceeds benefit The NASCAR Foundation) to attend the fan-favorite event featuring all 13 Chase drivers. Whether anyone can top Jeff Gordon break dancing or Denny Hamlin doing "The Dougie" remains to be seen, but this is definitely a can’t-miss event.