The 2021 NASCAR season comes to an end the first weekend of November with a packed schedule at Phoenix Raceway. Three champions will receive their trophies and then they will have another opportunity to celebrate at the end of the month with a trip to Nashville, Tenn. for a special ceremony.
NASCAR announced on Thursday, Aug. 5, that Champions Week will return to Music City after a year away. The top three series — Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and Cup Series — will descend upon Nashville and spend multiple days celebrating the 2021 season and the biggest moments. The champions of each series will dress to the nines and pose with their new trophies while some of their peers receive awards.
The sanctioning body did not provide many details about the return of Champions Week, simply confirming that it will begin on Nov. 30 and run until Dec. 2. NASCAR will reveal more details about musical guests and special presenters at a later date.
The 2020 champions did not have an opportunity to celebrate their achievements with the fans and each other after the season came to an end. COVID-19 disrupted any plans and forced NASCAR to use a TV show to conduct the festivities.
Champions Week Marks the Second Ceremony Held in Nashville
Following the 2019 season where Kyle Busch locked up the second championship of his career, the drivers and teams headed to Nashville for the first time instead of going back to Las Vegas. They then spent several days taking over Music City with events, including the Burnouts on Broadway where the top drivers did cookies on the streets of downtown in their stock cars.
Once the drivers headed inside for the actual awards ceremony, they rubbed elbows with a stacked list of special guests. Chris Janson and Cole Swindell both performed songs for the audience while former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George walked the red carpet. Nashville residents Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari both served as presenters during the star-studded evening.
The list continued with professional wrestlers, singer-songwriters, and NHL players. Even longtime NBC Sports personality Rutledge Wood added some flair to the evening as one of the co-hosts with a custom red flannel tuxedo that resembled a hunting jacket.
Fans Will Hope for the Return of an Old Segment
With the return of Champions Week, many NASCAR fans will hope for the return of a special segment that disappeared after the 2017 season — After the Lap. For several years, NASCAR would gather the playoff drivers together and give them microphones. These stars would then wait for Marty Smith, Wood, or Jamie Little to ask them questions.
While the intent may have been to answer fan questions and discuss the season that recently ended, the actual result was a multitude of long stories, jokes about other drivers, and some random discussions. In 2016, Wood and guest host Guy Fieri asked Austin Dillon to explain “Pokemon Go” to Tony Stewart, resulting in Smoke saying that the mobile game “sounds dumb as s***.”
NASCAR has not held any After the Lap sitdowns since 2017, but fans still make requests for its return. They express a desire to see the drivers making random comments about each other while largely ignoring the actual questions asked of them by the fans in attendance.