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Nextel to sponsor NASCAR

June 19, 2003 at 1:39 PM

NEW YORK, June 19 (UPI) -- NASCAR announced Thursday that the Nextel will replace cigarette maker Winston as the title sponsor for its top racing division starting next season.

Nextel, which make wireless phones, will reportedly pay $75 million annually for 10 years, but not all the money will go to NASCAR. Nextel has agreed to spend millions on advertisements during races.

Nextel already has signed agreements with more than 30 tracks.

"It will invigorate our hard-core fans," said NASCAR Executive Vice President Brian France. "And it's also going to expose our athletes and cars to new fans."

Winston reportedly paid between $30-60 million annually.

Despite a slow economy, NASCAR managed to strike a deal with Nextel only four months after R.J. Reynolds Tobacco announced it would step aside after 31 years as the circuit's title sponsor.

RJR President Ned Leary said in a statement that Reynolds was "fortunate" to have been a part of NASCAR and was appreciative of what the sport had done for his company.

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