NASCAR set to take over Las Vegas for Champions Week

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There’s always a party somewhere in Las Vegas. And this week, NASCAR is throwing a big one.

The “Champions Week” celebration will culminate this Friday night with the 2013 Sprint Cup Series Awards at Wynn Las Vegas, where now six-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson and the rest of the Top 10 drivers in this year’s standings will be honored.

However, there will be plenty of other fan-friendly events leading up to the awards that will take full advantage of its unique setting. In case you’re heading out to Vegas this week, here’s some events to keep an eye out for:

Wed, Dec. 4 – FanFest at Fremont Street Experience: All 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders from this past season will be in attendance to compete in a gameshow-style event. Fans can also get in the running for tickets to Friday’s awards ceremony and the March 2014 NASCAR weekend at nearby Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Thurs., Dec. 5 – Victory Lap on Las Vegas Boulevard: Chase drivers will give a live demonstration, traveling north on Las Vegas Boulevard and doing burnouts along the way. Additionally, the drivers will do an authentic pit stop in front of the Bellagio.

Thurs., Dec. 5 – NASCAR After The Lap at Palms Hotel & Casino: The Chase contenders will take part in a live roundtable discussion in front of a fan audience. The event is sold out, but will be streamed online at NASCAR’s official website.

Additionally, NASCAR will have several private events such as the NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon on Thursday, where multiple championship awards and the Most Popular Driver award will be handed out.

Hamilton: McLaren could help create four-team F1 title fight in 2018

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Lewis Hamilton says the Mercedes Formula 1 team cannot afford to let up in its push to improve ahead of a fiercer fight at the front of the field in 2018 – potentially including former team McLaren.

Hamilton clinched his fourth F1 drivers’ title in Mexico at the end of October as Mercedes continued its perfect record of championships since the introduction of the new V6 turbo hybrid engines in 2014.

The team faced a stiffer challenge in 2017 thanks to a resurgent Ferrari, while Red Bull also posed a threat towards the end of the season, setting the stage for another close fight next year.

Hamilton is expecting both Ferrari and Red Bull to remain a force at the front of the pack, but also feels McLaren could join the fight after ditching Honda in favor of a Renault engine supply for 2018.

“When I’m training and preparing for a new season, I firmly believe that we can be contenders for the next championship. It may turn out to be not possible, but you have to have that mindset,” Hamilton said.

“If you go in with expectations of finishing fifth, it’s not going to work. You’ve got to gear yourself up to win.

“Next year, McLaren will have Renault engines, then we may see four teams fighting for the championship. I think Red Bull will be quicker and Ferrari for sure will be fast again.

“We can’t stand still – we have to keep moving forwards.”

Hamilton started his F1 career with McLaren back in 2007, winning his maiden world title in 2008 before leaving the team for Mercedes at the end of the 2012 season.