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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.

Reviewing Danica Patrick’s highs and lows at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.

It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.

In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.

“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.

Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.

For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.