LOS ANGELES, Aug. 29, 2006 The Los Angeles Times will publish on Aug. 30 a 12-page special Sports section, "NASCAR's New Frontier," previewing the Sept. 3 Sony HD 500 a critical race in deciding which NASCAR drivers will make "the chase" for the Nextel Cup stock-car championship.
The race which begins at 5 p.m. PDT and ends under the lights also will be the second Nextel Cup event hosted this season by California Speedway in Fontana.
"NASCAR is the fastest growing sport in North America, with fans from coast to coast," said Randy Harvey, Los Angeles Times sports editor. "This special section will keep Southern California race fans looking to The Times for the best possible local NASCAR coverage.''
In Southern California, NASCAR has an estimated two million fans. Nationally, the sport is experiencing a major surge in popularity, as evidenced by the recent releases of the Will Ferrell movie, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," and the Disney/Pixar animated movie "Cars." NASCAR claims about 75 million fans and ranks among the country's most popular sports in terms of attendance and television viewership.
The special editorial section will include:
- The Future of NASCAR The Nextel series will enter a new era in 2007 with major changes: a universal body style, Toyota's arrival on the circuit, a new TV contract, and new racers like former Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya joining the sport.
- In-fighting An anecdotal look at the fighting, retaliation and gamesmanship that goes on behind the scenes and often boils to the surface for millions to witness. Has the "Chase for the Cup" actually intensified a part of NASCAR that has always been there?
- Toyota Makes its Debut In a move that has unsettled some NASCAR fans, the Japanese carmaker next year will begin racing its Camry against the Fords, Chevrolets and Dodges that now compete in the series. And some teams fear Toyota will spend whatever it takes to win the Nextel Cup.
- Carl Edwards In 2005, Carl Edwards made a name for himself by winning four Nextel Cup races two of them back-to-back and finishing third in the series. But this year, he's in danger of missing the chase, in which the top 10 drivers in points battle for the title during the final 10 races of the year.
- Gillian Zucker California Speedway President Gillian Zucker is the first woman to preside over a Nextel Cup racetrack. A look at her first-year in office and her efforts to attract more people to California Speedway.
- Chase for the Nextel Cup As NASCAR's top-tier series heads into the home stretch, here are the drivers with the best chances of qualifying for the championship race.
- Minorities and NASCAR In 2004, NASCAR launched a diversity initiative to increase the number of women and minorities behind the wheel, in NASCAR offices, and with race teams and speedways. How successful has the program been?
- Bill Lester The first black driver at the Nextel Cup level in 20 years, Bill Lester plans to attempt to qualify as well for the Sony HD 500 race.
- Motor Racing Network (MRN) NASCAR on radio has steadily increased in popularity, right along with NASCAR on TV. But it's hardly a mainstay for all-sports radio, since 45% of its 750 affiliates are country music stations. That was the case in Southern California as well, until Los Angeles' only country music station switched formats on Aug. 17. That move sent MRN executives scrambling to find a new L.A. affiliate.
- Future Cars After five years of design, NASCAR reveals what the universal "Car of Tomorrow" body style will look like.
- California Speedway This full-page users' guide offers the latest information about audience seating, the track itself, and the new $10-million entertainment area that includes a restaurant run by celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck.
- Nextel Cup Series A complete profile of the series, including previous winners, starting fields, drivers and teams, as well as broadcast and viewer information.
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