Casey Mears in for Gordon at Race of Champions

NASCAR Nextel Cup racer Casey Mears is to replace Jeff Gordon in the American team for the Race of Champions and Nations Cup competitions in Paris on Saturday. The youngster will fly in over night with Jimmie Johnson after the NASCAR banquet in New York this evening. Gordon is now out of hospital but will not be flying to Paris and may still miss the banquet depending on how he is feeling. Gordon is suffering from severe dehydration after a bout of flu.

The draw for the Race of Champions competition has been made already with Michael Schumacher drawn against Felipe Massa, Mears against Jean Alesi, Heikki Kovalainen against David Coulthard and Kenny Brack against Sebastien Bourdais. The rallying heats (although some of the drivers are not really in rallying) will feature Marcus Gronholm against Stephane Sarrazin, Sebastien Loeb against Tony Kanaan, Armin Schwarz against Jimmie Johnson and Mattias Ekstrom against Colin McRae. The winners of each of the heats will then go into the semi-finals (thus the winner of Schumacher-Massa will race against the winner of Mears-Alesi and so on). There will then be a final for racing and another for rallying and finally a competition to establish who is the champion of champions.

The Nations Cup will feature the two-man teams going up against each other in a similar knock-out format with the first rounds involving Finland versus Sweden, USA versus GB, Germany versus Brazil and Team Playstation France versus France.

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