Published November 23, 2010
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Jimmie Johnson has been on a dizzying schedule since winning his fifth straight Sprint Cup championship Sunday afternoon in Homestead, FL.
New York City has been Johnson’s temporary home Monday and Tuesday as he has appeared on a wide range of local and national television and radio shows, a run that included racing pedal cycles against late-night host Jimmy Fallon.
There were no injuries.
There is much more to come, of course. After a brief break for Thanksgiving, Johnson will report to Las Vegas Monday for the beginning of Champion’s Week in the desert and the myriad of festivities leading up to the awards banquet.
Johnson has made this circuit four times now and knows the drill. It’s a lot of talking, a lot of smiling, a lot of repetitive questions to answer and a bunch of hands to shake.
Other than a couple of naps, Johnson’s time has not been his own since the checkered flag fell Sunday in Homestead.
“It’s been a busy two days and a lot of fun talking about what we’ve done,” Johnson said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s everything. It’s been an amazing experience for myself and the team.”
Of the thousands of photographs that have focused on Johnson since Sunday’s race, the best might be one showing the champion standing in the center of the five trophies, in an arc at his feet. It’s the kind of photo no Cup driver had ever posed for.
“I haven’t seen the finished product, but when I walked up to the set with the five trophies, it was staggering to see that in front of me and my name on those trophies,” he said.
Will there be more hardware at his feet next season? And the next?
“I feel satisfied, but I’ve never set marks for myself,” Johnson said. “What’s drawn me to racing is this feeling inside of me and the passion I have for this sport and the feeling I have while competing and what I do on a car or a bike or whatever it’s been. I guess someday when that goes away I’ll stop.”
But at least seven titles, which would tie Johnson with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr., is a clear goal. And maybe beyond.
“I would love to get to 10 straight,” he said. “I don’t know how ridiculous that sounds. The realistic side of it is there’s no telling how long it’s going to last. I think we’re all shocked that it’s gone on this far.
“I do feel in my heart that we’ll have a shot next year. I don’t know what the challenges will be and what the competition will look like. If I can string together seven to tie those two greats, I’d be extremely honored. If I was able to surpass them, it would be out of this world.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award
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By JEFF WOLF
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
* Motor Sports
* Champion's Week
Enter to win VIP passes to Chasers for Charity
Jimmie Johnson gives a thumbs up Sunday after winning his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in Homestead, Fla.
LYNNE SLADKY/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Now that the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is over, planners for the Dec. 1-3 Champion's Week in Las Vegas can create name tags for the drivers who will be on the stage for the banquet at Wynn.
And the Sprint Cup trophy will have the name of Jimmie Johnson engraved on it for the fifth straight year.
Unfortunately, the general public isn't invited to the big gala, but it's the most boring part of the three-day celebration anyway.
For the second year of the festival in Las Vegas, there are three big events that are free to the public. Here's a list of fun-filled events you can attend and one you can't:
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 1
Chasers for Charity Fanfest at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is free and will be highlighted by a Family Feud-like competition between the year's top-12 Cup drivers, who will be split into two teams. The battle will be hosted by Kevin Burke -- who stars in the one-man show "Defending the Caveman" at Excalibur -- from 2-3:30 pm.
Gates open at 10 a.m. in the Neon Garage with live music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and other forms of entertainment.
A special go-kart race adjacent to the Neon Garage will include Carrot Top, outfielder Aaron Rowand of the World Champion San Francisco Giants and Sprint Cup rookie of the year Kevin Conway.
A local race fan can win a ride in the go-kart race by going to http://www.lvrj.com/...harity-rj.html. Deadline to enter is Thanksgiving Day.
The Richard Petty Driving Experience will offer stock car rides with a percentage of the proceeds going to charity. The speedway will offer tours of the facility, and interactive displays will be available throughout the Neon Garage.
THURSDAY, DEC. 2
The NASCAR/NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon begins at 11 a.m. in the Bellagio ballroom. The annual industry/media gathering includes the presentation of awards to the champion crew chief and team sponsor, Raybestos rookie of the year and most popular driver. For the first time, fans will have an opportunity to attend this event through various online contests and auctions.
Victory Lap: The day's highlight begins at 3:30 p.m. with the Victory Lap that includes the top 12 drivers motoring -- loudly -- along the Strip in their teams' respective race cars. Victory Lap will feature an authentic pit stop along the route and two burn-out sections for drivers. Victory Lap will start in front of Planet Hollywood and end at Hard Rock Hotel.
NASCAR After The Lap: Starting at 4:30 p.m., this is a free event for fans in The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel. It features an unfiltered question-and-answer session with drivers and an interactive Coca-Cola Fan Zone experience. Select NASCAR fans will be awarded NASCAR-themed prizes, including a 2011 Ford Taurus SHO. The Coca-Cola Fan Zone opens at noon, with doors to NASCAR After The Lap opening at 3 p.m. General admission seats are free, on a first-come, first-served basis. Fans can register for tickets at NascarAfterTheLap.com.
FRIDAY, DEC. 3
2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony: The big show will start at 6 p.m., crowning Johnson as the NASCAR Sprint Cup driving champion and Hendrick Motorsports as the winning team owner. The top 10 drivers will be honored. Entertainment is by comedian Frank Caliendo, Rascal Flatts and Cirque du Soleil's "Viva Elvis." The event will be broadcast live on Speed (Cox 329).
I will never watch NASCAR again.
Jimmie Johnson winning five in a row is unbelievable. NASCAR has had to rig this for him to win five in a row.
Although after last year I said to myself I'll never watch NASCAR again, this year I mean it and will stick to my guns on this, this time.I hope.
I believe it is Jimmie's clean-cut image that attracts the NASCAR officials.
With some well-timed cautions through the years always seems to help him out and gain much needed points during times when it looked like he was going to slip up.
Don't get me wrong I like Jimmie but it just seems more than a coincidence.
I used to be a big fan of NASCAR. But these last few years have really made me think that this sport is starting to rival WWE.
OK my rant is over.
I have always been more of a Hockey fan than NASCAR fan.