NASCAR Touring Champions Make Their Rounds of New York City
Champions Week is in Full Swing
(From left to right) NASCAR champions LW Miller, Joey Logano, Steve Carlson, Ron Hornaday, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Andrew Ranger, Mike David and Donny Lia pose with the Brooklyn Bridge as the backdrop. Chris Trotman / Getty Images for NASCAR Photo)
NASCAR’s 2007 champions gathered today for the 12th annual photo shoot traditionally taken at a New York City landmark. This year, the photo was shot at New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park. NASCAR’s national series, developmental series, and weekly series champions joined in smiling for the cameras with the 124-year-old landmark bridge as the backdrop.
The photo session was one of the major highlights of the day which included an appearance at the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Media Luncheon at Cipriani 42nd Street (see next page for a list of award winners), and a private dinner at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue, where the drivers each sign mats that will be used in framing their champion’s “class picture.” Their evening was to be capped by attending the invitation-only Sprint Party at New York’s Marquee night club.
The day’s events were the biggest so far for NASCAR’s six 2007 regional and developmental series champions, who joined their national series peers for the Cipriani luncheon and the Brooklyn Bridge photo session.
Andrew Ranger of Quebec, champion of the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, best known as a Champ Car driver prior to 2007, and is meeting his fellow NASCAR champions for the first time.
“This is my first time to New York, and I’m really surprised at how big the city is,” Ranger said. “NASCAR has given us a huge opportunity to come here and meet a lot of people. Normally, you win a championship, get a trophy and go home. To be here in the same room with Jimmie Johnson and Juan Pablo Montoya makes my first NASCAR championship even more special.”
Joey Logano, 17, of Middletown, Conn., is NASCAR’s Grand National Division, Busch East Series champion. A developmental driver for Joe Gibbs Racing, he’s already well known to NASCAR national series drivers, but he’s never seen how national series drivers receive their honors.
“It’s pretty cool to see what NASCAR does with its champions in New York. There is so much more that goes on behind the scenes before the banquet that you don’t see on television. It’s been a great experience and I’m just trying to take it all in.”
Of all the NASCAR champions in attendance, Steve Carlson of West Salem, Wisc., is the veteran of the experience. Carlson is the 2007 NASCAR Whelen All American Series national champion. He’s been to the New York celebration twice before as a champion of NASCAR’s former Elite Division, the same title he won when the champion’s photo shoot was held at past locations including Atlanta, Ga. and Homestead, Fla.
“Without a touring series to race in, I thought my travel days to the New York banquet were done,” Carlson said. “My weekly track (LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway) is five blocks from my house and it’s NASCAR sanctioned. We started out to run part time there this season and then went full time because we started winning and won the national championship and made it back to the champion’s event in New York. NASCAR really honors its champions, and it’s pretty cool. It’s big.”
Other NASCAR touring champions introduced at Thursday’s luncheon include NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series champion Mike David of Modesto, Calif., NASCAR Whelen Modified Series champion Donnie Lia of Jericho, N.Y., and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Series champion L.W. Miller of Mooresville, N.C. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr., and NASCAR Busch Series champion Carl Edwards.
NASCAR Champions Week reaches a crescendo Friday, with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony at the Waldorf=Astoria Grand Ballroom. Earlier in the day, all the champions will appear at Fanfest at Hard Rock Café in Times Square.