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July 26, 2014

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Photos: Top NASCAR racecar drivers take to the Strip for their Victory Lap

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

The Victory Lap for 2013 NASCAR Champion’s Week on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, on the Strip in Las Vegas.

2013 NASCAR Champion’s Week: Victory Lap

Jimmie Johnson and Robin Leach at the Victory Lap for 2013 NASCAR Champion’s Week on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, on the Strip in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

2013 NASCAR Champion’s Week: Fan Fest at FSE

Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. attend Fan Fest at Fremont Street Experience in downtown Las Vegas on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, for 2013 NASCAR Champion's Week. Launch slideshow »

2013 NASCAR Victory Lap

2013 NASCAR Victory Lap

Hats off to our Metro Police for running such a smooth operation today for the 2013 NASCAR Champion’s Week Victory Lap. Despite cold temperatures in the low 40s — and feeling colder with the near icy wind chill — thousands of fans packed the route along the Strip in a loop from Planet Hollywood up to Palazzo and back past a six-second, tire-change pit stop at Bellagio Fountains.

Police closed off the Strip in sections just before the racecar stars revved up and reopened it immediately after they’d gone by. It was a smart move that minimized traffic tie-ups on our city’s most congested roadway.

Everything went as planned: Fire Department trucks and ambulances on hand for any emergency weren’t needed, and motorcycle police outriders kept thousands of fans safe on the sidewalks. The fans were packed solid on bridges and restaurant patios up and down the Victory Lap.

The only mishap was to Kurt Busch’s #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, which burned out during the burnout doughnuts outside the Palazzo and Wynn intersection at Las Vegas Boulevard and Spring Mountain Road. A tow truck pushed the still-smoking car to the end of the 13-car parade and then back home.

I introduced all 13 top NASCAR drivers to the fans before they revved and roared the Strip: #13 Carl Edwards, #12 Kasey Kahne, #11 Ryan Newman, #10 Kurt Busch, #9 Greg Biffle, #8 Joey Logano, #7 Clint Bowyer, #6 Jeff Gordon, #5 Dale Earnhardt Jr., #4 Kyle Busch, #3 Kevin Harvick, #2 Matt Kenseth and #1 for his sixth series title in eight years, 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

In 2010, Jimmie made history as the only driver in NASCAR history to win five consecutive championships. He is now one title shy of tying the all-time record for championships. After the Victory Lap and a second set of burnouts at the intersection of Harmon and the Strip, the drivers went to the fan-packed “After the Lap” Q+A at Pearl at the Palms.

On Friday night, they have the black-tie awards at the Wynn and broadcast live on Fox. Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins were thrilled with the news of NASCAR’s decision to re-up Champion’s Week through 2017, as I reported this morning.

Tom told me: “They really love being in Las Vegas. They much prefer Las Vegas over New York. They couldn’t even race the cars there, and it was much more expensive to stage. I think we can keep them coming here forever.”

Our thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue for his photo gallery of the Strip action and Richard Corey for his videos aboard the chase bus posted on YouTube. NASCAR returns March 7-9 weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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