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Some of NASCAR’s newest marketing efforts are being carried out on a college campus in Northwest Washington, up the street from where Duke Ellington played jazz and a short hike from where Bill Cosby stops for his half smokes.

Howard University isn’t exactly a hotbed of pistons and pit stops, but five of the school’s students will travel to Miami this week to present to NASCAR officials their latest findings on ways the stock car racing league can attract young fans.

The students are finalists in the “NASCAR Kinetics: Marketing in Motion” program, an initiative designed to connect college students to the business side of racing.

“We want college students to become immersed in the world of NASCAR,” program director Talia Mark said. “We want people to understand what’s going on at the racetracks and understand why we love the sport but also get them immersed in the business aspects and understand all the different opportunities that NASCAR has.”

Each of the five Howard students admitted to being relative newbies to NASCAR but newcomers with an interest in sports marketing or public relations.

After presenting a series of case studies and hosting a panel discussion with NASCAR officials last month, they now head to a South Beach hotel to give their take on how NASCAR can reach fans between the ages of 6 and 24. Students from Coastal Carolina University and Notre Dame also will compete, with final presentations to be made this Wednesday. The winner will get to stay in Florida and attend the season’s final Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Students from Winston-Salem State, Clark Atlanta University and Central Michigan University also participated in the program but were not selected to compete in Miami.

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