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NASCAR puts the squeeze on ATT UPDATE #2 NASCAR is losing its patience in the court battle with AT&T. Spokesman Ramsey Poston said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway that AT&T "has been dishonest with the fans and with NASCAR, and it's time for that to stop."

"The facts are that NASCAR has approved a Cingular 'Go Phone' paint scheme that they used before and could use again this weekend, as well," Poston said. "The decision to have a blank car on the track this weekend is theirs and theirs alone -- RCR."

NASCAR maintains that AT&T and Richard Childress Racing knew the contractual parameters of the Sprint/Nextel exclusivity agreement far prior to the AT&T/Cingular corporate merger, and should "do the right thing and honor the agreement."

"When AT&T merged with Cingular, they knew what the rules were," Poston said. "They knew they could not re-brand that to AT&T. In the same way I very much doubt AT&T is going to invite Sprint/Nextel or any other competitor into their exclusive deal for the iPhone, or invite Sprint/Nextel or any other competitor to advertise at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants. They understand exclusivity."

Poston noted that Cingular "remains a viable mark," and cited Cingular retail stores in both adjacent towns to Bristol Motor Speedway as proof.

"There's obviously still value in that mark," he said. "There's still marketing and they're still selling services on it, so there's no reason why that mark shouldn't be on the car."

"NASCAR doesn't have the exclusivity with Sprint -- the industry does," Poston said. "More than defending ourselves or Sprint/Nextel, we are defending every driver and team in the garage.

"Sprint/Nextel essentially sponsors every driver. The funds they put into this sport go into the point fund, go to help each race winner and to help promote the entire sport through commercials and marketing.

"That's all part of the [sponsorship] package. Sprint/Nextel are the ones that have devoted their company and resources to NASCAR, and they benefit every single driver in there. So that's why we need to protect the exclusivity of that contract on behalf of the entire industry."

08/24/07 The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car was unloaded as a plain orange and black car without AT&T logos Friday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway. With NASCAR Vice President of Racing Operations Steve O'Donnell watching, the Jeff Burton crew unloaded the car at 6 a.m. with a car that met NASCAR's approval.
That's because it didn't have AT&T logos on it. It didn't have any logos on the hood or the side panels.

The team hauler was plain black with the 31 number, and the team was wearing gray RCR t-shirts. All AT&T logos have been removed from pit equipment as well.

08/23/07 NASCAR has rejected proposed paint schemes featuring AT&T's "Go Phone" and the AT&T Mobility tagline "More Bars in More Places" as AT&T seeks a way to remain on the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car, according to AT&T.

AT&T, in a motion filed today in U.S. District Court asking the court to expedite another preliminary injunction hearing, called NASCAR's actions "unreasonable and vindictive" and indicated that its Go Phone scheme was similar to one used in May 2005.

"NASCAR insisted that not only must AT&T Mobility remove the 'AT&T' name and logo immediately, but also that AT&T Mobility feature the very name, 'Cingular,' that AT&T Mobility has spent millions of dollars removing from the marketplace," AT&T states in its motion.

AT&T had won an injunction on breach of contract grounds as U.S. District Court Judge Marvin Shoob ruled May 18 that NASCAR's grandfather clause in its licensing agreement that gives RCR a car number allowed for the Cingular logos to be changed to AT&T following their December 2006 merger.

But the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that because the grandfather clause (enacted in 2004 when Nextel became the primary sponsor of the Cup Series) was designed to benefit RCR and not necessarily Cingular, that AT&T could not sue under breach of contract grounds.

AT&T said it attempted to compromise this week by not including the AT&T globe and the Cingular name on its Go Phone scheme but that NASCAR rejected it Wednesday because the Cingular logo was too small.

"AT&T Mobility has removed the AT&T logo and name from the car, consistent with the Court of Appeal's decision," AT&T states in its motion to have a hearing as early as the second week of September. "That should be enough for NASCAR and Sprint Nextel.

"But now NASCAR wants to ensure that AT&T Mobility's customers are confused by insisting (apparently at the behest of Sprint Nextel) that AT&T Mobility prominently and with large and bold type display 'Cingular' on the #31 car when AT&T Mobility is in the process of completing its name transition."

The actual motion for a new preliminary injunction will be filed Friday in Shoob's court, AT&T indicated in its filing Thursday.

"NASCAR has approved multiple paint schemes for the 31 including a Cingular Go Phone scheme," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said. "The 31 has many, many options from which to choose. This is about living up to the agreements that were made.

"In 2003 we made an agreement with RCR to keep its sponsor in the series. We believe that agreement should be honored. Finally, remember that Sprint Nextel benefits all competitors and we have a contractual obligation on behalf of the industry to protect the exclusivity." Scenedaily.com

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