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SPONSOR NEGOTIATIONS: Sprint is deep in negotiations with NASCAR to continue title sponsorship of its top racing series.

The current 10-year deal with NASCAR expires at the end of the 2013 season, but talks on an extension have been ongoing on and Steve Gaffney, vice president of corporate marketing for Sprint, was pleased with the negotiations.

“We’re really hopeful we’ll have some good news to announce soon,” Gaffney said during Sunday’s season finale.

The deal began in 2004 with Nextel, which was eventually acquired by Sprint. The series was re-branded the Sprint Cup Series in 2008.

NASCAR chief marketing officer Steve Phelps acknowledged renewal talks are progressing.

“We continue to have discussions, and both parties are interested in continuing the relationship,” Phelps said.

Gaffney said Sprint has been thrilled with the title race between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, and felt the last month has increased interest in NASCAR.

“It’s been the perfect amount of rhetoric,” Gaffney said. “The talk has been just right, not too over the top, and it’s been an exciting time to follow the series. We couldn’t be more excited with how things developed and got to this finale.”

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NO BUSCH BASH: Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch both made the Chase for the championship, and Kyle even opened NASCAR’s 10-race title bout atop the standings.

But neither contended.

Kurt finished 11th in the final standings, one spot ahead of Kyle, who was suspended by NASCAR at Texas. Their positions at the bottom of the standings means neither will be eligible to participate on the stage during the season-ending awards ceremony in Las Vegas _ their hometown.

“I’ve never been so disappointed in my life,” Kurt Busch said. “I think I missed a race once my rookie year and this almost tops that.”

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