BUSCH: Record purses for July race

Pepsi 400 Media Day: plenty of money up for grabs during Pepsi 400 weekend. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 10, 2003) - The Florida media who gathered on the "World's Most Famous Beach" on Tuesday for Daytona International Speedway's Pepsi 400 Media...

Pepsi 400 Media Day: plenty of money up for grabs during Pepsi 400 weekend.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 10, 2003) - The Florida media who gathered on the "World's Most Famous Beach" on Tuesday for Daytona International Speedway's Pepsi 400 Media Day were treated to sun, surf, history, a record Pepsi 400 purse announcement and a NASA rocket launch.

Arriving at the scene in a 1950s beach racer and a DAYTONA USA show car were NASCAR Winston Cup stars Sterling Marlin and Ward Burton. Joining the Daytona 500 winning drivers were ISC/NASCAR Chairman Bill France and Speedway President Robin Braig as the Pepsi 400 purse was unveiled in a unique, out-of-the-ordinary photo shoot.

Burton and France posed with a check representing the purse for the inaugural mid-summer classic in 1959, which was $26,560. Marlin and Braig unveiled a record check of $5,042,185 that will be paid to the 43-car field for this year's Pepsi 400, an increase of $635,337 over the 2002 Pepsi 400 payout.

The Pepsi 400 purse could be even bigger. The Winston Leader Bonus, awarded to the winner of the race who also is the series point leader, stands at $150,000 entering this week's race at Michigan Speedway. If the Winston Leader Bonus is not collected by the Pepsi 400, it would be worth $170,000.

"The winner of the Pepsi 400 is going to be well-rewarded," said Speedway President Robin Braig. "In fact, if a driver can sweep the Pepsi 400 weekend and win both the Pepsi 400 and the Winn-Dixie 250 Presented By PepsiCo, he'll be even richer."

Besides the posted awards for the Pepsi 400, the purse for the Winn-Dixie 250 Presented By PepsiCo NASCAR Busch Series race is $1,317,488, an increase of $103,147 from last year's inaugural summer Busch Series race.

"It's really unbelievable to think that some NASCAR guys will be going after five million dollars," Burton said. "It just shows where the sport has come from."

"We're going to try to make that 50 million one day," France said.

In addition to announcing the purse, Pepsi 400 Media Day also celebrated Centennial of Speed, recognizing 100 years of racing in the Daytona Beach area.

The beach racing that took place in the Daytona Beach area between 1903-1958 helped build the foundation for historic Daytona International Speedway and the upcoming 45th annual Pepsi 400.

Reflecting the current motorsports era, Marlin greeted the gathered media on the beach driving the No. 59 DAYTONA USA Dodge. Representing the beach-racing era, 2002 Daytona 500 champion Ward Burton wheeled a replica of Lee Petty's No. 42 Plymouth.

"It's so hard to believe it wasn't that long ago just north of here that those (beach) cars were running," Burton said. "We're talking about not long ago in the scheme of things and to see where the sport has come from is really phenomenal."

France also talked about how the Pepsi 400 has grown in its 44-year history. The mid-summer classic has gone through seven name changes, grown from 250 to 400 miles and is now held under the lights.

"It's banging heads with the Daytona 500," France said. "It's an exciting race. A lot of people like it. The nighttime works out pretty good. It's cooler."

In between talking racing and remising about the past, the Florida media also witnessed a rocket launch from nearby Cape Canaveral as NASA sent the first of two land rovers to Mars aboard a Boeing Delta Two rocket.

The Pepsi 400 is scheduled for Saturday, July 5 at 7:30 p.m. It will be broadcast live on NBC Sports and MRN Radio. The Winn-Dixie 250 Presented By PepsiCo NASCAR Busch Series race will go green on Friday, July 4 at 8 p.m. and televised on TNT.

Fans can purchase tickets for Pepsi 400 weekend events online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

-dis-

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Series NASCAR Cup , NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Ward Burton , Sterling Marlin , Lee Petty