Immediately following the press room session with the Chase drivers at the Bellagio, I got on the bus taking the media over to the starting line in front of Planet Hollywood for the Victory Lap down The Strip (aka Las Vegas Boulevard).

It was a pretty quick trip and once I got off the bus I found out that there were two double-decker Sprint buses that would be a part of the Victory Lap. I didn’t see any of the Victory Lap last year because I was on the monorail headed to MGM Grand. This year though I managed to get a spot on top of the double-decker bus that trailed the cars down the strip.

Michael GrimmBefore all of that the twelve cars were lined up double-file in front of a makeshift stage where Miss Sprint Cup chatted with Carrot Top and then introduced Las Vegas resident and huge NASCAR fan, Robin Leach (and she proceeded to get his trademark Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous phrase wrong by saying “caviar dreams and champagne wishes” for which Robin corrected her in front of everyone and said, “it’s champagne wishes and caviar dreams”). Robin introduced the Chase drivers and then that guy, Michael Grimm, who won this year’s season of America’s Got Talent sang the National Anthem. At least I’m pretty sure he did, I was on top of the double-decker bus at that point I think and I don’t remember hearing it.

I did get a photo of him (at right) and I didn’t realize he was staring right at me when I took it, I thought he was looking past me. Whoops. I really should have said “hello” or something, at least, since he was by himself.

Anyway, on to the Victory Lap. So I got on the bus and immediately looked around for my seat number. The layout of the first floor didn’t look anything like the floorplan I’d been shown minutes before, so I turned to the guy standing out front and asked if I was supposed to go upstairs and he said yes. I felt like such a dope, of course it was upstairs. I’ve never been on a double-decker anything before so I wasn’t sure what it would be like but it turned out to be SUPER fun.

As soon as the race cars passed us and got into a single line we followed them down the street. People were lined up on the sidewalk on either side of the street and it was so much fun to wave and cheer along with them. I cannot express to you how much fun that was. I LOVED it. I seriously didn’t want to get off that bus. I could have done that all day long.

Most people on the street were awesome but then there were those few jackasses that yelled at us to take our tops off or show our tits like it was Mardi Gras or something. One guy flipped us off and I made a gesture like “What is that about???” I didn’t do what I wanted to–flip him off too–because I was on Sprint’s bus and I figured they might not appreciate that.
At the front of the bus was Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman, a couple showgirls and Robin Leach. It was really fun to watch Robin Leach texting (see photo below) and watch the feathers fly off the green showgirl’s dress. Other people on the bus were media, NASCAR PR and a lot of sweepstakes and contest winners.

Eventually, we made our way into the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino parking lot where the Coca-Cola Fan Zone complete with the Sprint Experience, Ford vehicles, games, and concession stands were setup. There were also grandstands setup for fans to sit and watch the cars pull in. I thought the people on the strip were excited but the people in the Fan Zone were beyond excited. Again, the most fun I’ve had in quite some time and I’m not even a driver!

I, reluctantly, got off the bus and made my way into The (new) Joint at the Hard Rock for the After the Lap event with the top-12 Chase drivers. Hilarity ensued.

Drivers waiting to be called on stage

Drivers about to go on stage

The Chase drivers waited to be introduced and called up on stage prior to start of their Victory Lap down Las Vegas Boulevard (The Strip) on Thursday, December 2, 2010. The second photo was taken with my cell phone and apparently Carl Edwards caught me!
Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick

Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer (eyes closed) and Kevin Harvick

Side of the bus

I’m so glad I didn’t fall off the side of the bus taking this photo.

Crowds on the sidewalks

Crowds, crowds everywhere!

Robin Leach

Robin Leach

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon tried to push his car, but ended up getting back in and Clint Bowyer pushed him the rest of the way.

Entering Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

Entering Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

(all photos credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)