NEW YORK – The usual cacophony of New York City traffic noise -- the blare of the horns and screeching of brakes -- was interrupted Wednesday morning as 10 of the world’s best drivers fired up their NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series cars for a Victory Lap through the city’s streets.
With 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet leading the way, the drivers drove in a 1.5-mile loop through the heart of the Big Apple. The parade started in front of Good Morning America’s Times Square studios and finished up on 43rd Street and 7th Avenue in front of The Hard Rock Café.
“It’s really an honor for us to drive through the streets of New York City and see everybody,” Johnson said.
A crowd estimated at 150,000 lined the parade route. ABC-TV carried live coverage of the event.
The Victory Lap featured the top 10 drivers, which included Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch.
The day was kicked off with the drivers appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America. Following the parade, the drivers posed for a photo atop The Hard Rock Café marquee before attending the Sunoco Checkered Flag Breakfast, which included interviews with New York and national media. The event was broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio.
Also at The Hard Rock Café, New York City Sports Commissioner Kenneth J. Podziba presented a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the City of New York to NASCAR President Mike Helton declaring Nov. 26-30 as NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champions Week.
This is the fourth year the Champions Week has included a Victory Lap, which has become the must-see event of the week for fans.
Johnson’s championship week activities continued Wednesday afternoon with the champion’s luncheon at the 21 Club with New York and northeast media.
Thursday, the NASCAR/National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Myers Brothers Luncheon at Cipriani on 42nd Street will honor the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series’ 12 Chase drivers, champions from all of NASCAR’s racing series and all NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers who won seasonal awards. Afterward, all 2007 series champions will gather for the traditional champions’ photo shoot at Brooklyn Bridge Park. Johnson will also be part of a private dinner for all of NASCAR’s champions at the Waldorf=Astoria.
Friday, Johnson and his team will pose for formal photos on New York City’s Park Avenue before attending several pre-awards ceremony receptions. That night, Johnson officially will be crowned the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion; the awards ceremony begins at 7 p.m. in the Waldorf=Astoria’s venerable Grand Ballroom. ESPN Classic will air the ceremony at 9 p.m. (ET).