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GORDON FLASHES VICTORY; NAPA NABS FIVE MORE YEARS AT AMS

          Jeff Gordon won his second NASCAR Winston Cup
     championship Sunday, finishing 17th at Sunday's season-
     ending NAPA 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS).  With
     the $1.5M championship bonus from series sponsor R.J.
     Reynolds, Gordon became the first race-car driver to win $5M
     in a season (USA TODAY, 11/17).  In K.C., Shannon Rose
     profiled Gordon, and wrote that "whether fans like it or
     not, Gordon has another talent besides driving.  He can
     convert the average person into a race fan."  Rose: "Like it
     or not, Gordon is the future of NASCAR.  And both are only
     going to get bigger and bigger" (K.C. STAR, 11/16). 
          GET OUT ON THE HIGHWAY: In Atlanta, Al Levine wrote
     that "about" 160,000 were expected this past weekend at the
     newly renovated AMS.  The complex accommodated "about"
     20,000 corporate sponsor guests, including title sponsor
     NAPA who built a 60,000-square foot village for its 3,500
     guests (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/15).  Also in Atlanta,
     Steve Hummer wrote on NASCAR's fan following: "Pick an
     adjective.  Best.  Most blindly loyal.  Most put out.  Just
     flat craziest.  The NASCAR Winston Cup fan can answer to
     them all."  More Hummer: "As the sport continues to gain
     altitude, it is only going to become more difficult to serve
     in racing's ranks.  It's choking on its own popularity,
     leaving the corporate interests and the grassroots fans to
     battle for its soul" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/16).
          NAPA'S AUTO RACE: NAPA has signed on to sponsor the
     November Winston Cup race at AMS for five more years (Ben
     Blake, INDIANAPOLIS STAR-NEWS, 11/16).
          BRING ALONG DUPER? Dan Marino has signed an agreement
     with NASCAR's Bill Elliott to jointly own the second car on
     the Elliott team for the '98 NASCAR Winston Cup season.  The
     Elliott-Marino Motorsports entry will make its debut at the
     Daytona Int'l Speedway on February 15.  Jerry Nadeau will be
     the driver, while TX-based FirstPlus Financial, Inc., a
     consumer finance company, will be the primary sponsor of the
     #13 Ford Taurus (FirstPlus Financial).

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