I've been saying this for several years now, and I hope it's still true over the next few days: Visiting Las Vegas for NASCAR Champion's Week provides so much value for fans that I honestly believe it's worth skipping a race somewhere else to come here.
The Vegas events for fans are awesome because the drivers aren't distracted by thoughts of what they need to do in the next practice or on their qualifying lap, and it shows in the amount of fun they have with both the audience and each other. The festivities start this afternoon with a game show on Fremont Street hosted by Carrot Top.
Now, is Fremont Street kind of crappy compared to the Strip? Yes, it is.
Is it inconvenient compared to the Strip? Also yes.
But it's MUCH better than having the Fan Fest at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (its former location), mainly because LVMS requires a car to get there and Fremont Street is a cheap cab ride from most Vegas hotels.
Last year was the first time NASCAR tried the game show on Fremont Street, and it was a major success. The plaza around the stage was packed with an enthusiastic crowd and drivers took their time walking the red carpet, signing dozens of autographs along the way.
The game show, combined with the "NASCAR After the Lap" forum on Thursday, provides insight into the drivers' personalities like nothing else all season. It's awesome to see the drivers interact and give each other crap without worrying about the pressure of an upcoming race.
I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what happens over the next couple days.
How will Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon treat each other at these events? What will the other drivers say about Brad Keselowski (since he's not close to many of the Chasers)? Will anyone do something crazy like breakdance as Gordon did last year?
This is a personality-based week in some ways, but that can be the fun stuff about racing. It's time for the drivers to let loose and remind the fans why so many people became interested in the characters of this sport in the first place.