Johnson soaks up spoils of victory again

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Jimmie Johnson knows the routine. After all, he's had the past four years to perfect being the Sprint Cup Series champion.

Johnson will be at the head table for the fifth consecutive year during the NASCAR Awards Banquet on Friday in Las Vegas. He is there to collect another trophy and more than $5 million in awards and bonuses.

The 12 drivers in the Chase for the Championship will kick off the celebration by taking a victory lap on Las Vegas Boulevard today, and drivers will be encouraged to burn doughnuts on The Strip.

After that, all of the drivers will be at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino meeting fans. The season-ending banquet will be Friday night (9 p.m. ET, SPEED) at the Wynn Hotel.

When NASCAR moved the banquet from New York City to Las Vegas, it created greater opportunities for fans to be part of the ceremonies. In fact, some will be invited to the banquet.

Comedian Frank Caliendo, singer Martina McBride and musical group Rascal Flatts are scheduled to appear during the banquet.

As in the past, Johnson plans to soak it all in.

"It's just been an amazing experience, amazing for myself and the team," he said. "I think it's been great for our sport to see the comparison drawn to other sports that have been able to link together multiple championships. It's been awesome, a ton of fun."

PETTY'S IN CHARGE: Richard Petty completed a deal to take control of his race team.

With the financial backing of Medallion Financial and DGB Investments, Petty was able to buy the assets of Richard Petty Motorsports that was owned by George Gillett Jr. It means the Petty name will remain in NASCAR next year, the family's 63rd year in the sport.

"Today is a great day for me, my family, our fans and our wonderful sponsors," Petty said.

Gillett was the majority owner of the team, but he's run into considerable financial problems. He was forced to sell the Liverpool soccer team, as well as the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL and several ski resorts.

Petty said he will take the lead in the day-to-day operations. The new team will consist of the No. 43 Ford for AJ Allmendinger and the No. 9 Ford for Marcos Ambrose.

PIT STOPS: Brad Keselowski will get a new crew chief next year. Paul Wolfe, who led Keselowski to the Nationwide Series championship, got a promotion to the No. 2 Dodge Sprint Cup team at Penske Racing. "It's been a fantastic 2010 season with Brad and the team and I'm excited about the challenge of moving up to the Cup series next season and the opportunity to continue to build on the legacy of the No. 2 car team with Brad behind the wheel," Wolfe said. ... Sprint FanView might go away. Sprint's contract with Kangaroo.tv to provide handheld scanners that include live television feeds and statistics has ended. Now that cell phones have the same capability to provide a lot of the same information, Sprint isn't eager to renew its contract.

Reach Don Coble at don.coble@morris.com.


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