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Winston Cup Series

Thursday, August 14

Sunoco lands long-term fuel deal
Associated Press

Sunoco will replace Union 76 as the official fuel of NASCAR's top three series', beginning in 2004.

An industry source, who spoke Thursday to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said Sunoco will supply all the fuel used in NASCAR's Winston Cup -- which will become the Nextel Cup next year -- Busch and Craftsman Truck Series.

NASCAR planned to make the announcement at a news conference Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. had notified NASCAR earlier this year that the sanctioning body was free to look for a new series sponsor to replace Winston. The situation was much the same with ConocoPhillips, owner of longtime fuel supplier 76, informing NASCAR it would not be continuing the relationship because of a shift in its marketing strategy and focus after the merger of the two companies last year.

The 76 brand, which had several different owners during the period, was the official fuel of NASCAR for more than 40 years.

The source said several other companies were interested in replacing 76, but NASCAR chose the Sunoco brand "because of its longtime racing involvement, supplying fuel for about 30 different racing series.''

The deal with Sunoco is "long-term,'' but details were not immediately available.

Nextel reportedly will pay $40 million a year in rights fees and an additional $30 million a year promoting the series over the course of a 10-year deal.

RJR, which cited marketing restrictions and an uncertain business climate in the tobacco industry for leaving the sport, spent about $45 million a year through its Winston brand and sponsored the circuit for 32 years.

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