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CART picks up title sponsor

Ford and CART officials announced a two-year marketing and promotions agreement Thursday, a move the embattled racing series hopes will allay fears of its impending demise.

CART president Chris Pook said the deal, along with the recent announcement of Bridgestone Tires as a major sponsor, should help draw new drivers.

Many of the recognizable drivers left for IRL at the end of last season.

"We've got two very significant people, Bridgestone to supply tires and Ford Motor Co. to supply engines," Pook said. "That's the backbone of any racing series."

CART has said at least 18 cars will start the 2003 season opener Feb. 23 in St. Petersburg.

The series now will be known as "Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford."

Federal Express, the title sponsor for the past four years, ended its relationship.

Cosworth, a Ford-owned company, was announced earlier this year as the sole engine manufacturer for 2003. Drivers will compete in virtually identical cars after Honda and Toyota moved to IRL.

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