Andretti Ready For Return

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MOORESVILLE, N.C. – John Andretti, a winning NASCAR driver, and ppc Racing, one of the top teams in NASCAR's Busch Series, have aligned themselves with a forward-thinking corporate sponsor to participate in a full-time, long-term venture at the top level of stock car racing.

Andretti will drive the VB/APlus at Sunoco Ford for ppc Racing beginning with the UAW/GM 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at the 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway Saturday night, Oct. 16. The team will run the remaining 2004 schedule, with the exception of Martinsville, and a full schedule every season beginning with the 2005 Daytona 500.

"A lot of people have been working hard to put this program together," said Andretti, a two-time winner in NASCAR Nextel Cup racing. "It's pretty exciting to have everything set and ready to go, and to know we are going to be a very competitive race team."

Greg Pollex owns ppc Racing, one of the winningest teams in the NASCAR Busch Series. ppc Racing won the 2000 national championship, has finished second four times in the title battle, and won the 2002 rookie of the year award.

"This is the next step for ppc Racing. It's a big step but one we are prepared, and excited, to take," Pollex said. "The backing of VB, Sunoco, APlus and Ford Motor Company allows us the support level we need to be competitive. We've brought in some very talented people to partner with one of the most experienced drivers in the sport."

Said Steve Swick, CEO, Victory Brand LLC, "For years stock car racing was pretty well closed to cigarette manufacturers but we jumped when we saw this opportunity.

"We joined the sport not only because there was an opening but because there was an opportunity to be part of a brand new exciting race team," Swick said. "The sport fits our demographic with the huge numbers of adults who follow it, and with the large numbers of highly brand loyal smokers who are fans. We believe they will see our support for NASCAR racing and will try the VB brand.

"And, frankly, we are race fans. We love racing, we love NASCAR racing and the excitement it brings," he added. "We're excited to be a part of our favorite sport."

Swick, whose company will be the second cigarette company to sponsor a car full time in the history of stock car racing, emphasized Victory Brand LLC was working diligently to target adult smokers of legal age, and would continue to proactively avoid marketing aimed towards minors.

"We are a very age-sensitive company. Our corporate policy expressly forbids marketing aimed at anyone other than smokers of legal age," Swick said. "That is an area both Victory Brand LLC and ppc Racing have discussed in full, and neither of us wants to sway from that. Our message is simple – if you are of legal age and you are a smoker, please try the VB brand cigarette. We think race fans will like the quality and we're confident they will switch."

"APlus is excited about entering into a marketing alliance with Victory Brands, as well as partnering with Ford and ppc Racing on the #14 car," said Jeff Hassman, manager of channel marketing for APlus convenience stores. "John Andretti's talent and popularity with NASCAR fans adds another dynamic element to the Nextel Cup Series, and will help us grow brand awareness of APlus as the c-store associated with Sunoco. In addition, we hope that those adult NASCAR fans choosing to buy tobacco products will show their support by purchasing Victory Brands at APlus, the Official Pit Stop of NASCAR."

"We're very happy to have John Andretti and ppc Racing joining our Nextel Cup effort," said Greg Specht, Performance Operations Manager, Ford Racing Technology. "Obviously, we've enjoyed our long-term and successful relationship with ppc Racing in both the Busch Series and now Craftsman Truck, so we know the capabilities are there to put together a winning program.

"And we're very pleased to be working with John Andretti again, who has always been a friend of Ford. People should remember that John's first Cup win came in a Ford, and we hope there will be more to come. I think John's and ppc Racing's new program will certainly add solid depth to our Nextel Cup efforts, and we're excited to have them start."

Victory Brand LLC, headquartered in Coldwater, Mich., produces VB Made In The USA, a premium high-quality blend value price cigarette, with scheduled national distribution beginning in October.

Andretti is one of the most well-known drivers in NASCAR racing, with race victories at two of the most difficult speedways on the circuit – the tight, fast 2.5-mile Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and the demanding .526-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. In 1994, he became the first driver to run both the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. And he is one of just a handful of drivers in history with major race victories in the top three forms of motorsports – NASCAR Nextel Cup, Indy car and major league sports car racing.

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