NASCAR drivers cash in again at Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2000 -- Seven drivers now have won at least $1 million - topped by Jeff Gordon's $3,276,076 - in the Brickyard 400 after last Sunday's seventh annual running of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race. ...

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2000 -- Seven drivers now have won at least $1 million - topped by Jeff Gordon's $3,276,076 - in the Brickyard 400 after last Sunday's seventh annual running of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race. And the total payoff by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has reached $35,648,152. The purse for the Brickyard 400 has doubled since the inaugural event in 1994. The payoff that year was $3,213,849, at the time the richest in stock-car history. This year's total was $6,502,882. The purse has increased each year - 1995, $4,447,015; 1996, $4,845,547; 1997, $4,965,217; 1998, $5,506,581, and 1999, $6,167,061. Add the Indianapolis 500 record purse on May 28 of $9,476,505, and the Speedway already has paid out an incredible $15,979,387 for two races this year. There is the first Formula One SAP U.S. Grand Prix yet to go on Sept. 24, but an actual announced purse is not involved in that event. The two winners - Juan Montoya in the Indianapolis 500 and Bobby Labonte in the Brickyard 400 -picked up checks totaling $2,066,915. The happy car owners for those two drivers are Chip Ganassi and Joe Gibbs. No wonder Ganassi vowed on the morning of the Brickyard 400, "I will be back at the Indy 500 next year." He'll also be at Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400. Ganassi is forming a new NASCAR team called Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates using the Dodge Intrepid, which will make its Winston Cup debut in 2001. Sterling Marlin has been signed as one driver, and a second will be added in the near future. Gordon's whopping career total includes a $1 million bonus he received from R.J. Reynolds for winning in 1998. His purse of $1,637,625 that year was largest ever by a winning driver, Indy or stock car. The million-dollar winners behind Gordon are: Dale Jarrett, $2,032,570; Bobby Labonte, $1,785,235; Ricky Rudd, $1,161,315; Rusty Wallace, $1,154,260; Mark Martin, $1,069,825, and Bill Elliott, $1,035,540. The stock-car speed record at the Speedway, like the purse, was broken for the seventh straight year. Actually, it was shattered five times during the two days of qualifying, and 14 drivers surpassed the old mark. Hut Stricklin 's speed of 178.394 mph was the slowest of 36 qualifiers. It would have won the 1997 pole by a half-mile per hour. Gordon won his third pole and set a record for a third time at 179.612 mph in 1999. On the Aug. 3 Pole Day this year, Bill Elliott started the record breaking with a lap of 180.448. Bobby Labonte pushed this up to 180.857, and Darrell Waltrip moved it to 180.923. Ricky Rudd then snatched the pole away from 53-year-old veteran Waltrip with a speed of 181.068. But his speed wasn't even the fastest when the field took the green flag. Brett Bodine didn't come close to making the top-25, locked-in drivers during Pole Day qualifying with a lap of only 175.922. But the next day he returned for second-round qualifying and clocked a stunning lap of 181.072 mph, four-thousandths of a mph faster than Rudd. Bodine started 26th. Posting fast speeds in qualifying didn't translate into top-10 finishes in the race. Bodine finished 39th, Rudd 21st and Waltrip, who started on the outside of the front row, 11th. All three Bodine brothers made the race for the first time since 1995 and in a qualifying quirk started 25th (Todd), 26th (Brett) and 27th (Geoffrey). They finished 15th, 39th and 12th, respectively. Gordon did not lead a lap at the Brickyard for the first time. He started a lowly 29th, was involved in an early accident and drove a taped-up car the rest of the way for a 33rd-place finish. However, he still leads the lap leader list with 277. Jarrett, also a two-time champion, is second with 186, while Rusty Wallace jumped from seventh to third with 136 by leading 110 in the latest race. A total of 35 drivers have led the race. New leaders this year were Jerry Nadeau with 11 and rookie Stacy Compton with one. Mark Martin went from the top of the mountain to the bottom from Friday to Saturday. He won the third annual IROC race for the third consecutive time Friday afternoon. But in the Brickyard the next day, he was tapped from behind, spun around and backed into the wall, ending his race in 43rd and last place. He still picked up a healthy check of $98,655. Martin has led 67 of 120 laps in the IROC races. But after winning the overall title in the 1998 inaugural race, he lost out the championship the last two years by one and three points, respectively, to Dale Earnhardt. Finally, Labonte's winning speed average of 155.912 mph for the Brickyard was a record as was the margin of victory, 4.229 seconds.

-IRNLS/IMS-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Brett Bodine , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Hut Stricklin , Stacy Compton , Chip Ganassi , Felix Sabates , Mark Martin
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing