Racing beat

| April 01, 2006

Freightliners to compete at NASCAR races.

Gentlemen, Start Your Diesels!
Freightliner Trucks is the official hauler for NASCAR.

The big truck maker announced its official sponsorship of American stock car racing at the Daytona 500 in February. The company said it will continue to sponsor individual Nextel Cup racing teams and also officially launched the Freightliner Run Smart Hauler Challenge, a series of pre-race events for Freightliner Coronado drivers who haul race cars from track to track.

“Both NASCAR and Freightliner Trucks share a passion for vehicles that push the envelope in terms of performance and efficiency,” said Jonathan Randall, Freightliner’s director of product marketing.

Freightliner will sponsor 13 Nextel Cup Series and Busch Series racing teams this season. “In addition to all of the great teams we’ve been affiliated with for years, we are also proud to announce our latest team relationship with Dale Earnhardt Inc.,” Randall said.

The Freightliner Run Smart Hauler Challenge is a series of five competitions run at NASCAR tracks before the stock car races. NASCAR haulers demonstrate their driving skills behind the wheel of a Freightliner Coronado. Drivers maneuver through an obstacle course and test skills such as parallel parking and backing up around curves. After the first event at Las Vegas, only 16 haulers got to keep competing. Each subsequent event cuts the number in half until the final two drivers face off at the Texas Motor Speedway in November.

“The hauler challenge is about skill and control, not speed,” said Randall. It is, he said, a competition drivers take seriously, not only for personal pride, but because of the prize money. The grand prize is $35,000, the second prize $15,000 and the third prize $5,000. The first competitions will narrow the contenders to 16, and the final competition will pit the top two haulers against each other.

Dates and locations for the big rig challenge are:

March 9, Las Vegas Motor Speedway
May 18, Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C.
July 7, Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill.
Oct. 7, Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, Ala.
Nov. 5, Texas Motor Speedway, Dallas.

The 13 racing teams sponsored by Freightliner will use Coronado and Classic XL models to transport cars and team equipment from race to race all season long. The teams are:

Akins Motorsports
BAM Racing
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabatas
Evernham Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI)
Fitz-Bradshaw Racing
Haas CNC Racing
Hendrick Motorsports
Jr. Motorsports
Michael Waltrip Racing
Penske Racing South
Petty Enterprises
Rusty Wallace Racing Inc.

“A small city moves from event to event during the 38-race NASCAR Nextel Cup season, and partners like Freightliner keep our sport rolling,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR’s vice president of corporate marketing.

Changes Up Ahead
The 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup season is well under way, but the 2007 campaign has already taken shape, thanks to Toyota and the Car of Tomorrow.

One of the worst-kept secrets in NASCAR was made official earlier this year when executives from both NASCAR and Toyota announced the Japanese manufacturer will enter the Nextel Cup and Busch series in 2007. It marks just the second time in the history of NASCAR a foreign make has competed in its top two series (Jaguar had a limited number of entries in the Grand National circuit of the 1950s).

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