Champion's Week preview

November 23, 2005

* Stewart in spotlight as NASCAR heads to New York for 25th annual Champion's Week visit

* Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contenders take on Manhattan

A lot has changed since Tony Stewart (No. 20 The Home Depot Chevrolet) won his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship in 2002, but one thing remains the same: A whirlwind visit to New York City to celebrate the title.

Stewart has already made one brief stop in the city, for an opening round of media interviews and to tape a segment for the Late Show with David Letterman, after he clinched the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway last Sunday. Following a Thanksgiving holiday break, he'll embark on the eventful "NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Champion's Week presented by Sprint" schedule on Monday.

The highlights of that schedule include some of NASCAR's New York traditions, such as the champion's photo shoot in Times Square, as well as newer events highlighted by next Wednesday's "NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Victory Lap presented by Sprint," that parades the top-10 cars through the city.

This year's festivities mark NASCAR's 25th annual visit to New York to crown its premier series champion and promote NASCAR racing in the nation's biggest city. The historic Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Park Avenue will once again serve as NASCAR's home base for the week and host the exclusive awards ceremony next Friday evening.

Beyond the Waldorf, NASCAR's presence in the city has grown with each passing year. During the next week, the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup contenders will also appear at various Manhattan landmarks, the New York Stock Exchange, an FDNY training facility, the Ronald McDonald House, hospitals, fan events, nightclub hot spots, media luncheons and television shows broadcast from New York.

Through the week-long NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Pit Stop Tour presented by Sprint, fans can see more than a dozen race cars throughout the city.

"New York is one of our sport's biggest markets, and Champion's Week gives the many New Yorkers who love NASCAR a chance to get close to our biggest stars and feel the roar of their race cars," said Roger VanDerSnick, vice president of marketing for NASCAR.

But the star of the show will be Stewart, who will be the face of NASCAR throughout the week.

In addition to the awards ceremony, NASCAR's annual New York Press Conference and luncheon, scheduled for Thursday at Cipriani on 42nd Street, is the major media event of the week. NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France will provide a review of the 2005 season, as will Sprint Nextel Chairman Tim Donahue; the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top-10 drivers, 11th-place Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Raybestos Rookie of the Year Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet), NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ted Musgrave (No. 1 Mopar Dodge) will be available for media interviews; and the 2005 champions from each of NASCAR's national, regional touring and weekly series will gather for their annual group photo -- marking the only time during the year when all 12 NASCAR champions are together.

The following is an overview of Tony Stewart's schedule during Champion's Week:

Monday, Nov. 28 ... Stewart begins his week with two memorable photo shoots, beginning at 11:30 a.m. He'll visit two famous New York City locations, the Top of the Rock observation deck on the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center and the distinctive Flatiron Building on Fifth Avenue between 22nd and 23rd Streets... Fox News Channel "Dayside" interview at 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 29 ... Satellite media tour from 10:15 a.m. -- 12:15 p.m. ... Visit to Staten Island Hospital Pediatric Burn Unit at 1 p.m. ... Visit to FDNY Fire Academy at 3 p.m. ... Appearance on MRN Radio's "NASCAR Live" talk show at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 30 ... NBC Today Show appearance at 8:30 a.m. to kick off NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Victory Lap presented by Sprint ... Victory Lap departs from NBC Today Show Plaza at 9 a.m. The procession will wind across town and arrive at 375 Park Avenue, the site of NASCAR's New York office.

Thursday, Dec. 1 ... New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) opening at 8:45 a.m., attended by the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top-10 drivers, Sprint Nextel Chairman Tim Donahue and NASCAR Chief Operating Officer George Pyne ... NASCAR Press Conference and luncheon at Cipriani, beginning at 11 a.m. ... NASCAR Champions' photo, featuring Stewart and all of the other 2005 NASCAR series champions, 1:30 p.m. at Cipriani ... Times Square photo shoot at 3 p.m. ... Visit to Ronald McDonald House at 4:30 p.m. ... Stewart will also pay a visit to the NASCAR champion's dinner to honor the regional touring series and NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series champions, at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel at 7:15 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 2 ... National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) / Myers Brothers Breakfast presented by Sunoco, in The Waldorf-Astoria hotel at 8:45 a.m. ... Photo shoot on Park Avenue at 3:45 p.m. ... NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony doors open and "Yellow Carpet" festivities begin at 6 p.m. ... Champion's "Red Carpet" arrival at 6:40 p.m. ... NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony in The Waldorf-Astoria Grand Ballroom at 7 p.m. Tune in ... NASCAR Radio on XM Satellite Radio will broadcast live from The Waldorf-Astoria, next Monday-Friday at 4 p.m. (ET). Host Claire B. Lang will report on each day's events and feature exclusive interviews with the Top-10 drivers and other personalities. ... MRN Radio will also broadcast live from New York, including an interview with Stewart on Tuesday and live coverage of the awards ceremony on Friday. ... SPEED Channel will air a special "NASCAR Takes Manhattan" show live, beginning at 7 p.m. (ET) on Friday. Marketing blitz ... The awards ceremony is the culmination of the season for NASCAR's top drivers, as well as an annual gathering for the sport's marketers and media personalities. Sprint Nextel plans a massive marketing campaign throughout the city, including its interactive NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Pit Stop Tour, show car displays and other fan events. There will be a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series display each day at the NBC Experience Store at Rockefeller Plaza, along with a driver autograph session there Wednesday afternoon. The annual Street & Smith's Motorsports Marketing Forum will be held Wednesday at the New York Marriott East Side, featuring several NASCAR executives and top drivers in a panel discussion on marketing trends and other industry issues.

France to be honored at March of Dimes luncheon ... NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France will attend the 22nd annual Greater New York March of Dimes luncheon at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel on Wednesday, where he'll be recognized with the organization's Sports Leadership Award. Other honorees include Barry Frank Sr., Corporate Vice President, IMG and Vice Chairman, TWI, who will receive the Corporate Leadership Award; U.S. Women's Soccer stars Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett, who will be recognized as Sportswomen of the Year; and Willie Randolph, manager of the New York Mets, as Sportsman of the Year.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony

Where: Grand Ballroom, The Waldorf-Astoria hotel New York City.

When: 7-10:30 p.m. (ET). Friday, Dec. 2.

TV: TNT, 9 p.m. (ET & PT).

Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10: 1. Tony Stewart 6,533. 2. Greg Biffle 6,498. 3. Carl Edwards 6,498. 4. Mark Martin 6,428. 5. Jimmie Johnson 6,406. 6. Ryan Newman 6,359. 7. Matt Kenseth 6,352. 8. Rusty Wallace 6,140. 9. Jeremy Mayfield 6,073. 10. Kurt Busch 5,974.

11th-place driver: Jeff Gordon.

Raybestos Rookie of the Year: Kyle Busch.

Special Guest: Comedian Jay Mohr.

Musical Entertainment: Singers Toni Braxton and Gavin DeGraw; Jazz pianist Eric Lewis.