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Nextel races into the pit

New service will let customers use a cell phone to hear chit chat between a driver and pit crew.

Nextel Communications on Thursday unveiled a new NASCAR feature, called FanScan In-Car Audio, which lets Nextel subscribers use their cell phones to eavesdrop on the chatter between NASCAR drivers and their crew chiefs, spotters and other team members. The service is for the NASCAR faithful who can't enough of the 15- to 30-second snippets used by TV networks during race broadcasts. Nextel, the sixth-largest U.S. cell phone service provider, wants to capitalize on its sponsorship of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series of races.

A number of different FanScan service plans will be offered to subscribers starting Sunday. Under one plan, customers pay $10 for a month of chatter, or about four races. To combat declining per-minute phone prices, U.S. cell phone service providers have been offering new features like FanScan that don't involve phone conversations.