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NEXTEL/NASCAR DEAL REMAINS INTACT IF NEXTEL/SPRINT HAPPENS

Racing Officials Cite 10-Year Sponsorship Contract

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Nascar yesterday said the merger between Nextel Communications and Sprint Corp. will not affect Nextel's title sponsorship of the racing
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league's biggest series for 2005. Beyond that, however, remains a mystery.

Nextel, which just completed the first year of its 10-year, $750 million deal that might be the most visible sponsorship in sports, entered into a $35 billion merger for a new telecommunications company to be called Sprint Nextel.

'Agreement remains in place'
Nascar CEO Brian France said, "Nascar's premier national series will continue to be known as the Nascar Nextel Cup Series in 2005 and will build on the outstanding success of the 2004 season. Nascar's 10-year agreement remains in place and all of Nascar is looking forward to great success in the years to come."

But already some are speculating that a name change could take place more sooner than later. The 10-race playoff that Nascar instituted this past year, called the "Chase for the Nextel Cup Championship," might become the "Sprint for the Nextel Cup Championship."

If it happens, it would be the third name change in as many years for a sports property that had rock-solid sponsorship for three decades. R.J. Reynolds' Winston brand was Nascar's top sponsor for 33 years before stepping down following the 2003 season.

In an earlier interview yesterday, Sprint Chairman-CEO Gary Forsee told Bloomberg News that he will "consider 'new branding' for the Nextel Cup" in 2006.

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