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Sato earns $2.45 million for win; Alonso beats Jones to ROY

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At last night’s banquet to celebrate the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil and honor the victor of the race, winner Takuma Sato took home more than $2.45 million, as part of the race’s overall purse of $13,178,359. The full IMS release is linked here.

Both the winner’s amount and the overall purse are down from last year’s 100th running. Last year, per IMS, winner Alexander Rossi earned $2,548,743 from an overall purse of $13,273,253.

The other bit of news that emerged last night – to some consternation on social media – was the news Fernando Alonso beat Ed Jones to Indianapolis 500 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors, and the $50,000 that went with it.

Alonso starred all month, for sure, but a Honda engine failure resigned him to an unrepresentative 24th place result in a DNF. Jones, heavily overshadowed and under-the-radar, ended in third place after a strong month of his own.

Four criteria are established for the rookie-of-the-year voting: (a) the driver’s skill, (b) sportsmanship, (c) accessibility and conduct during the month, and (d) finishing position. Per IMS, each criteria should be considered the same as any other.

We hope to have more insight about that process and the resultant kerfuffle that followed on social media in the coming days on MST.

The updated box score with prize money totals is linked here.

Bill Elliott joins Tony Stewart/Ray Evernham SRX series for 2021

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott became the eighth driver to join the Superstar Racing Experience, the short-track series being started by Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart.

The two-time Daytona 500 winner and 1988 NASCAR Cup Series champion was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015 and was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver 16 times (his son, Chase, has received the honor the past two years). Elliott also closed his full-time Cup career driving for Evernham’s Dodge team from 2001-03, winning the 2002 Brickyard 400.

“I am excited to reunite with Ray Evernham and some of the great legends of our sport,” Elliott, who joins Stewart and Bobby Labonte as NASCAR Hall of Famers in the SRX, said in a release. “I look forward to racing at some of the most historic American racing destinations and putting on an awesome show for the fans. We have a special driver field and it will be fun competing with some of the greatest drivers of all time.”

The series, which is expecting to have a dozen drivers, also has Tony Stewart, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Paul Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Willy T. Ribbs and Mark Webber in its lineup.

SRX was co-founded by NASCAR Hall of Famers Stewart and Evernham and was unveiled July 13.

Several drivers have expressed interest in the new circuit, which is modeled on the International Race of Champions (IROC) series that matched drivers from various auto racing disciplines in equally prepared cars for an annual four-race series for 30 years.

With the addition of Bill Elliott, Superstar Racing Experience has yet to reveal a schedule or tracks, but it’s expected that Stewart’s Eldora Speedway will be on the slate.