Dillon confirmation adds to NASCAR’s stacked 2014 rookie class


NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Rookie-of-the-Year award has been through a rough few years before 2013, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick contended for the title. The previous three winners from 2010 to 2012 – Kevin Conway, Andy Lally and Stephen Leicht – were all stuck with subpar equipment and were basically the only drivers entered for the award. All three are no longer in NASCAR, although Lally is back in his natural habitat of sports car racing with the Magnus Racing team, and has promptly resumed kicking the field’s rear end there.

The above copy serves as a preface because in 2014, the quality of NASCAR’s rookie class in Sprint Cup will far exceed anything it’s been for the last five years. It marks the beginning of a new wave of youngsters officially stepping up to Cup, where they can begin the process of sinking or swimming. If it’s the latter, they’ll begin to ruffle the feathers of the establishment.

Austin Dillon, 23, of course, was always projected to come into Cup with Richard Childress Racing and would have to be considered the early favorite for ROTY honors. But Kyle Larson, 21, will learn and develop over the course of his first season with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. RCR utilizes Earnhardt Childress Racing engines, while EGR uses Hendrick-built engines. These two drivers will probably exchange races where they’re top freshman in the field.

Swan Racing’s young tigers will seek to overachieve. Parker Kligerman, 23, is a star-in-waiting, and a very engaging personality on social media. Cole Whitt was in Red Bull’s driver development program a few years ago, and was very highly touted at the time before entering NASCAR’s career wilderness just in the last two years. But Whitt is still only 22, and more experienced than you realize in both Cup and Nationwide level machinery. If Swan’s cars take that next step to consistent top-20 or top-25 finishes, then these two enter the ROTY discussion.

Less likely to win it of the five confirmed thus far is Michael Annett, 27, who perpetually struggled in Nationwide save for a career year in 2012. Annett, who’s never made a Cup start, will likely find the road a bit rocky with Tommy Baldwin Racing. If TBR adds a veteran teammate in its second car, that will aid his development progress.

Unconfirmed as yet but likely to take the reins of the former Phoenix Racing, now Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet, is Justin Allgaier, 27. Allgaier has been a dependable finisher in Nationwide over the last few years and is a former Penske Racing prodigy, so he has the talent needed to achieve results. Whether he’ll have the equipment remains to be seen, but TSM will likely be in or better than the Swan range at first estimate.

The last rookie class with more than two full-time entrants took the green in 2008. But most then have faded from Cup, proving how hard it is to have staying power. Regan Smith won over Sam Hornish Jr., but both are now fighting for rides in the Nationwide ranks. Meanwhile open-wheel converts Dario Franchitti, Jacques Villeneuve and Patrick Carpentier – all icons in that discipline – struggled mightily in NASCAR and failed to stick.

In fact only Michael McDowell, who drove for Michael Waltrip Racing that year, has a full-time confirmed ride for 2014, and even that’s with the fledgling Leavine Family Racing operation. Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose also participated in their first Cup seasons in 2008, but did not declare for ROTY.

Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports