Penske, Hendrick have dominated 1.5-mile tracks, but there’s a darkhorse to watch out for in Chase


Many fans are already anticipating that this year’s Sprint Cup champion is going to come from either Team Penske (Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano) or Hendrick Motorsports (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and defending Cup champ Jimmie Johnson).

There’s some decent logic in that expectation.

There are a total of 11 1.5-mile tracks on the 2014 Sprint Cup schedule. Six races have already been contested, with five more still to come in the Chase, beginning with this weekend’s kickoff race at the 1.5-mile Chicagoland Speedway and ending with the season finale on another 1.5-miler, Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Thus far this season, Team Penske has three wins on 1.5-mile tracks: Brad Keselowski at Las Vegas and Kentucky.

Team Hendrick has the other three wins on 1.5-milers: Jeff Gordon (Kansas), Jimmie Johnson (Charlotte) and Kasey Kahne (Atlanta).

But here’s an interesting take, thanks to Dustin Long of The top-scoring driver on 1.5-mile tracks this season is none of the above.

What’s more, that same top-scoring driver hasn’t even won a race yet in 2014, yet is solidly in the Chase.

Trick question? Nope. The answer is simple: Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth.

Kenseth has managed to score a top-10 finish in each of the six races on mile-and-a-half’s already contested this season. Add his points totals up and Kenseth has earned 232 points on the mid-range tracks.

Gordon and Logano are tied for a close second with 228 points each on those same tracks.

There’s an irony that Kenseth led all Cup drivers last season with seven wins, but he’s yet to reach Victory Lane this season.

Could Kenseth have the kind of Chase that Tony Stewart had in 2011? Stewart failed to win any races during the first 26 races, but then won five of the 10 Chase races to claim the championship, thanks to a tie-breaker over Carl Edwards.

One other thing to note about Kenseth: guess who is the defending champion of Sunday’s race? Yep, the pride and joy of tiny Cambridge, Wisc. (population 1,200), that’s who.

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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