Happy 56th Birthday, Eddie Cheever Jr. (VIDEO)

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Today also marks the 56th birthday for Eddie Cheever Jr., the 1998 Indianapolis 500 champion and the man with the most starts among American drivers in the history of Formula One with 132.

Cheever competed in 11 seasons in Formula One but for nine different teams during that span – Theodore, Hesketh, Osella, Tyrrell, Ligier, Renault, Alfa Romeo, Lola and Arrows. His 1983 season with Renault alongside the great Alain Prost was his best in F1, earning four podiums that included a runner-up at the Canadian Grand Prix.

In 1990, Cheever jumped from Formula One to CART, where he would drive for luminaries such as Chip Ganassi (1990-92) and A.J. Foyt (1994-95). But in 1996, he moved into the fledgling Indy Racing League and eventually set up his own team.

Cheever would earn five victories as a driver in the IRL, but none bigger than his ’98 triumph at Indy. Overcoming a first lap run-in with J.J. Yeley, he would find himself battling against ’96 Indy champ Buddy Lazier in the end before emerging as the victor. He led 76 of 200 laps en route to the win.

After Cheever stepped out of the car following the 2002 season, he concentrated on team ownership. The list of former Cheever Racing drivers is an interesting one and includes the likes of 2004 Indy 500 winner Buddy Rice, Tomas Scheckter, Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron and current IndyCar owner/driver Ed Carpenter.

Cheever would come back to IndyCar driving in 2006, making seven starts before he was forced to shut his team down in mid-season due to a lack of sponsorship. He now works as an IndyCar TV analyst.

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

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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