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The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the largest sanctioning body of motorsports in the United States. The three largest racing series sanctioned by NASCAR are the NEXTEL Cup, the Busch Series and the Craftsman Truck Series. It also oversees NASCAR Regional Racing, the Whelen Modified Tour, and the Whelen All-American Series. NASCAR sanctions over 1,500 races at over 100 tracks in 39 states, Canada, and Mexico. From 1996 to 1998, NASCAR held exhibition races in Japan, and an exhibition race in Australia in 1988.

NASCAR Racing NASCAR has grown to become the second-most popular professional sport in terms of television ratings inside the U.S.

With roots as regional entertainment in the Southeastern U.S., NASCAR has grown to become the second-most popular professional sport in terms of television ratings inside the U.S., ranking behind only the National Football League. Internationally, NASCAR races are broadcast in over 150 countries. It holds 17 of the top 20 attended sporting events in the U.S., and has 75 million fans who purchase over $3 billion in licensed product each year. These fans are considered the most brand-loyal of all of sports and as a result, Fortune 500 companies sponsor NASCAR more than any other sport.

NASCAR's headquarters is located in Daytona Beach, Florida, although it also maintains offices in four North Carolina cities: Charlotte, Mooresville, Concord, and Conover. Regional offices are also located in New York City, Los Angeles, Arkansas, and international offices in Mexico City and Toronto, Canada.

Nextel Cup Series

The "NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series" is the sport's highest level of professional competition. It is consequently the most popular and most profitable NASCAR series. The 2006 NEXTEL Cup season consisted of 36 races over 10 months, with over $4 million in total prize money at stake at each race. Writers and fans often use "Cup" to refer to the NEXTEL Cup series and the ambiguous use of "NASCAR" as a synonym for the NEXTEL Cup series is common. As of 2007, the defending champion is Jimmie Johnson.

In 2004, NEXTEL took over sponsorship of the premier series from R.J. Reynolds, formally renaming it from the Winston Cup to the NEXTEL Cup Series. A new championship points system, "The Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" was also developed, which reset the point standings with ten races to go, making only drivers in the top ten or within 400 points of the leader eligible to win the championship. In 2007, NASCAR announced it was expanding "The Chase" from ten to twelve drivers, eliminating the 400-point cutoff, and giving a ten-point bonus to the top twelve drivers for each of the races they have won out of the first 26. Wins throughout the season will also be worth five more points than in previous seasons. In 2008, the premier series title name will become the Sprint Cup Series, as part of the merger between NEXTEL and Sprint.

Busch Series

The "NASCAR Busch Series" is the second-highest level of professional competition in NASCAR. The cars look very similar to Nextel Cup cars with only a few differences, such as the weight and length of the car, the size of the rear spoiler, and the power output of the engine. As of 2007, the defending champion is Kevin Harvick.

The Busch Series is currently the only series of the top three to race outside the United States and the only series to have ever held points-paying international events. The season is a few races shorter and the prize money is significantly lower. Over the last several years, a number of NEXTEL Cup drivers have tried to run races in both series, using the Busch race as a warm-up to the Cup event at the same facility. Detractors of this practice have labeled such drivers as "Busch-whackers." The Busch sponsorship is set to expire at the end of 2007 and the series is currently looking for a new title sponsor for 2008 and beyond.

Craftsman Truck Series

The "NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series" features modified pickup trucks. It is one of the three national divisions of NASCAR, together with the Busch Series and the Nextel Cup. As of 2007, the defending champion is Todd Bodine.

In 1994, NASCAR announced the formation of the NASCAR SuperTruck Series presented by Craftsman. The first series race followed in 1995. In 1996, the series was renamed the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to emphasize Craftsman's involvement. The series was first considered something of an oddity or a "senior tour" for NASCAR drivers, but eventually grew in popularity and has produced Nextel Cup series drivers who had never raced in the Busch Series.

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