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    NASCAR to Pay Tribute to Winston Cup Era

    Racing association plans "Victory Lap" program to commemorate RJR's sponsorship.

    DAYTONA BEACH, FL -- NASCAR announced that R.J. Reynolds, whose 33-year sponsorship of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series helped elevate the premier stock car series to one of the most popular sports in the United States, will be officially recognized for its contribution to the sport through the "Victory Lap" tribute program. R.J. Reynolds will end its NASCAR relationship this year.

    The "Victory Lap" tribute will recognize drivers who captured a championship during R.J. Reynolds' sponsorship tenure at designated tracks throughout the remainder of the 2003 season. Among the highlights of the tribute will be special paint-schemed cars of selected champions that will showcase the "Victory Lap" logo that honors R.J. Reynolds.

    The Tribute begins at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23 before the Sharpie 500, lasts through the Winston Cup season's final race, the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16. "RJR has been the perfect partner in helping NASCAR become one of the most popular sports in America," NASCAR president Mike Helton said. "They deserve and have the gratitude of the entire NASCAR industry, and we are proud to pay tribute to everything they have done for our sport."

    Helton, accompanied by Ned Leary, president of Sports Marketing Enterprises at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. made the announcement at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of Sunday's Brickyard 400 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race.

    "We're humbled that NASCAR has chosen to celebrate our 33-year partnership in such a significant manner," Leary said. "I'm sure the 'Victory Lap' will capture not only the fan's interest, but also the rich history of the last 33 years. "On behalf of all the people from Sports Marketing Enterprises who have contributed to the NASCAR Winston Cup program, let me emphasize the pride we have in our longstanding relationship with our partners at NASCAR. They've worked with us as the series sponsor, but more importantly, welcomed us as part of their extended family."

    "The Victory Lap" tribute will honor a series champion or a pairing of a former and active one during pre-race ceremonies at designated tracks during the remainder of the season. The honored guest will take a ceremonial parade lap prior to the start of the race in a specially designed "Victory Lap" race car emblazoned with the "Victory Lap" logo.

    Additional details of the comprehensive program honoring R. J. Reynolds and Winston will be announced in coming weeks.

    CAPTION: A collection of former Winston Cup champions helped introduce the NASCAR Victory Lap Tribute.

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