RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Lenovo’s new drive to expand sales in the U.S. retail market now includes Circuit City stores and the chain’s online store.

Lenovo is launching a determined drive to expand retail market share in the U.S. this year under a plan recently disclosed by Chief Executive Officer William Amelio. Lenovo recently expanded its relationship with Best Buy stores with an emphasis on small business owners. While Lenovo, which has its U.S. headquarters in Morrisville, is the world’s third largest PC manufacturer, its market share is not in the top five in the U.S.

On Tuesday, Lenovo announced its deal with Circuit City, Best Buy’s biggest rival in the consumer electronics and entertainment market.

Under the deal, Circuit City will offer ThinkPad and Lenovo brand laptops at nearly 700 stores as well as online. Models include the ThinkPad T60 widescreen and the Lenovo N100.

Additionally, Lenovo C200 notebooks and additional configurations of the Think Pad and N100 models will be available online or by phone order

“The popular ThinkPad widescreen and Lenovo notebook PCs are ideal systems to offer Circuit City customers,” said Steve Mungall, vice president for Worldwide and Americas Channels at Lenovo, in a statement. “More small business PC users are turning to retail outlets to satisfy their PC needs in the office and at home. Moving these PCs onto the retail shelves of Circuit City is just another way for us to put our innovations in the hands of more people.”

The laptops will be preloaded with the Windows Vista Home Basic or Premium operating system. The ThinkPad T60 model sold online will include Windows Vista Business.

“We are excited to offer the proven technologies found in the ThinkPad and Lenovo notebook PC line to our customers,” said John Kelly, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Circuit City. “Offering Lenovo products enables us to provide an additional valued brand, which we feel will have a strong appeal to our customers.”