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Jimmie Johnson readied for new championship photo ops -- in Las Vegas


Jimmy Johnson (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   Jimmie Johnson, who has had his face and championship race car seen and photographed in just about every part of New York City, during his three years of title celebrations, says he looks forward to Las Vegas as the new site for NASCAR's post-season awards banquet.
    Er, maybe make that 'NASCAR's post-season awards party,' with the emphasis on party-time.
    "The conversations I've had with Mike Helton (the NASCAR president) and some others shows that Las Vegas gives us more options," Johnson says.
    "That intrigues them, that we have so many more options.
   "And I think Vegas will be much more willing to cooperate and work with us, to make it a great experience, and to bring the fans into it.
   "The weather will be a lot better. Our planes can get in and out.
   "We can parades on the streets…and not have to worry about the UN being in town…or upsetting every New Yorker. (The 2008 parade around New York City was cancelled.)
   "And we'll all be able to seat more people. Last year we couldn't even get enough seats in the room for all the guys on the team who helped us win the championship.
   "It's worth trying for a year. It's tough leaving New York; I have a fond spot in my heart for New York, and it's a great place to crown our champion. And if Vegas doesn't work out, we can always go back."
    The Dec. 4th affair is set for the Wynn, on the Strip.
    Of course the issue has been raised in some quarters that the end-of-the-season banquet is really a non-event, with no news value, and little entertainment value, since all the questions have already been answered.
   What to do to make this thing in Vegas worth attending, or watching?
   Maybe bring out show girls to hand out the awards?
   "Hey, girls are always an option," Johnson cracked.
   "I'm not sure what the proper balance is, but in Las Vegas you have the best entertainers, the best singers…you're close to LA….so you have a lot of star-power you can bring in.
   "And from a production standpoint, they put on shows and conventions all the time, so there are so many more options to do things to liven things up."


And maybe moving the NASCAR awards party to Vegas will pump up ticket sales for next year's 400 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


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