NASCAR: Brian France talks possibility of mid-week races, road race in Chase


The new Chase for the Sprint Cup format had a nice start in 2014, but NASCAR still has to figure out other ways to augment its current fan base with newer ones.

A concept that has been repeatedly batted around for some time now is mid-week races, particularly during the summer months where NASCAR would face less TV competition from other sports.

In the past, drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Newman have championed the idea.

But NASCAR Chairman Brian France didn’t seem too keen on it during his Tuesday appearance on Motor Racing Network’s NASCAR Live radio show.

“One challenge that we have, among others, is the current events that we have – no one wants to give any of those up, so start with that,” France said when asked about the subject by host Eli Gold.

“The other challenge that we would have is we don’t have home teams…What we rely on are 80 to 100,000 – and even more – people to make a weekend out of something, drive on average 200-plus miles, often stay more than two days, and bring their families.

“When you start doing that in mid-week with school and everything else – even in the summer – those kind of opportunities to draw people to these big speedways becomes more difficult.”

And while the aforementioned new Chase format has provided a jolt to NASCAR’s post-season, a common complaint about the Chase remains that its current 10-track lineup could use a shakeup.

Five of the 10 tracks are 1.5-mile, intermediate ovals that already dominate the Cup landscape, and they include Homestead-Miami Speedway, which hosts the season finale.

A road race in the run to the championship could provide some more spice, especially considering how good NASCAR’s product on the twisty tracks has become.

But France indicated that perhaps we shouldn’t be holding our breath on that, either.

“We’re not opposed to it, but from a calendar standpoint, there’s only two [Sprint Cup road course] venues of course, and both of them like their dates for different reasons,” he said. “So, [it’s] unlikely to see that happening, only because of, really, how the dates fall.”

Sonoma Raceway in California hosts Sprint Cup in late June, while Watkins Glen International in New York State has its Cup weekend in early August.

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