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Brace yourself, race fans. Things are about to get a little weird. Ford has decided to meld the seemingly unmeldable worlds of NASCAR and rally to help promote the 2011 Fiesta. Ken Block, Richard Petty and AJ Allmendinger have joined forces as an unholy trifecta of motorsports action, unified by their common love of the number 43. We don't need to tell you that Petty famously campaigned old four-three in the heyday of NASCAR, netting 200 Sprint Cup wins and a total of seven championships in the

Sure enough, the upcoming Sprint Cup Carfax 400 will be paced by none other than the Blue Oval's tiny 2011 Fiesta Sedan. With less than a third of the displacement of the tube-frame beasts lapping Michigan International Speedway, we wouldn't quite expect lightning-quick pace laps, but hey – safety first. While pace cars are typically some sort of performance product, manufacturers aren't past parading less than muscular new hardware in front of the captive audiences of the raceway.

If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times, but it warrants repeating – in context especially – that there exists an ocean of difference between stock car racing in America and touring cars overseas. And we're talking about more than geography here. The cars are different, the tracks are different, the drivers, the fans... and so too is the racing. But the two are about to take one step closer when two-time DTM champion Mattias Ekström takes on NASCAR.

For years Marlboro has been nearly synonymous with Penske, its racing cars (in open-wheels especially) adorned with the tobacco company's red-and-white color scheme for decades, even if their name hasn't appeared on the cars since 2005. But after 19 years in racing together, Marlboro parent company Phillip Morris ended its sponsorship of the motor racing dynasty earlier this year. Now it appears that Shell Oil could be taking its place.

Some motorsports fans take issue with the fact that the vast majority of NASCAR tracks are little more than a series of left turns. This is for you, roundy-round jokers. The official sport of the South is mixing in some right turns and working the brakes a bit more in 2010 with a pair of road courses. The first race, a June 20 Sprint Cup affair at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California, was already on the books, and now the truck racing series has added a second road course on June 19. The Natio

Dickies 500 Chevrolet Camaro pace car delivered in style - Click above to watch the video

Rumors of IndyCar's Danica Patrick dipping a toe into the stock car racing pool have been swirling for months, but a new report suggests that an end to the rumors is near. ESPN says that Patrick is on the verge of signing a NASCAR Nationwide Series contract with JR Motorsports, the operation owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Unnamed sources that spoke to ESPN call the talks "near their final phase" and comment that it'd be a "surprise if it didn't happen." In any case, don't expect a formal announcem

The scalpel of bankruptcy that is slicing off GM's sponsorship activities hasn't touched NASCAR's top tier Sprint Cup series, but the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series' have been trimmed. NASCAR drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kevin Harvick have teams running in the lower two series, and have been told by GM that they will lose funding.

Jeremy Mayfield, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver with five career victories, has become the first driver suspended for substance abuse since the sanctioning body's no-nonsense policy took effect this season. Jim Hunter, NASCAR's vice president of corporate communications, would not say what the specific substance was, but he did clarify that it was not alcohol-related. As of last September, NASCAR tests all drivers and crew members at the start of the season, and randomly throughout the year.

Toyota has just raised its profile in NASCAR's top racing series. For the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup (née NEXTEL Cup) season, Joe Gibbs Racing will trade in its Chevrolets for Toyota Camrys (or at least cars with Toyota Camry headlight and grille stickers decorating their noses). In terms of star power, it means that Toyota picks up some very big names in Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin. Stewart showed how receptive he was to the change by announcing plans to sign a contract extens

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