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Ted S. Warren  /  AP
Will Scientologist Tom Cruise find new "Days of Thunder" with NASCAR?
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msnbc.com
updated 6/13/2006 2:49:33 AM ET 2006-06-13T06:49:33

Don’t be surprised if Tom Cruise becomes a NASCAR fan. Scientology is getting into the wildly popular race sport.

“Dianetics,” the book written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, is sponsoring a racing team — dubbed “Ignite Your Potential” — that will tour the NASCAR circuit. A Dianetics Racing Web site is being set up for fans.

Driver Kenton Gray credits Hubbard’s work with making him a good driver. “It’s markedly improved my focus and my consistency,” he said in an announcement from Hubbard’s publisher. “Through ‘Dianetics’ I’ve handled stress and increased my performance and ability to compete—both on the track and in life.”

“Scientology makes a point of recruiting celebrities as a part of it’s marketing appeal,” says a source. “If this is another marketing appeal — reaching out to the NASCAR crowd — it’s brilliant.”

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“We’re not out selling a product,” Grant Cardone, the CEO of Freedom Motorsports, the company behind the car, told The Scoop. But he says, he too, is a fan of “Dianetics,” and if the Ignite Your Potential car helps troubled people, “that would be great.”

War of words
Did the Iraq war vet suing Michael Moore have a shift of politics?

Sgt. Peter Damon last week hit the filmmaker with an $85 million lawsuit for including a clip of him in “Fahrenheit 911,” which Damon said made him appear anti-war and anti-George Bush.

But in January, 2004, Senator Edward Kennedy gave a speech blasting Bush and the war. In his speech, Kennedy thanked Sgt. Peter Damon for attending the talk and introduced the parents of a vet who was killed and Damon — who according to one account of the event “flanked” the senator — to prolonged applause. The speech was later attacked by Republicans for its tough anti-war and anti-Bush language.

When called for comment, Damon’s lawyer, Dennis Lynch, said, “If you claim that [Damon] attended an anti-war speech, that would be inaccurate.” Lynch requested a video of the event; when offered an email transcript instead, the lawyer accused The Scoop of being “unprofessional” and “biased” before hanging up. He hung up on or declined to accept subsequent calls for clarification.

In another film, one blasting Michael Moore, Damon was quoted as saying that he disagreed with Moore’s documentary, which he called “propaganda.” But when asked if Moore had he right to make the movie, Damon replied, “That’s the reason we go off to fight — to defend his right to make a movie.”

Notes from all over
Anna Nicole Smith cannot be accused of passing up a chance to make a buck. The Playmate turned diet-pill pitchwoman announced on her Web site last week that she’s pregnant—but she’ll charge visitors for updates on her condition.  . . .  Sienna Miller’s father joined a cult in which members don beads and bedsheets, according to Miller's stepmother. Kelly Hoppen told Tatler magazine that her marriage to investment banker Ed Miller went kaput after she tried to attend an initiation ceremony and the cult leader hit her, according to London’s Daily Mail. . .  David Blaine still seems a little waterlogged. The man who submerged himself for the world to see was spotted jumping over the railing at Mr. Chow in New York at the Cingular & LG NYC launch of HBO Mobile — supposedly to avoid the press. “I am having a breakdown,” he announced.

Jeannette Walls Delivers the Scoop Mondays through Thursdays on MSNBC.com

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