Will the third round be the charm for Blake Baggett again?

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Round 3 of the MX season will be pivotal for Blake Baggett. In three 450 starts at Thunder Valley, he has never failed to stand on the podium and this week, he needs to challenge for a top-three this week to re-establish himself as a title contender.

Everything started out promising for Baggett last week at Fox Raceway in Pala, Calif.

Baggett grabbed the holeshot and – after losing the lead to Ken Roczen on the first lap and second to Jason Anderson soon afterward – he stabilized quickly and got back around Anderson for second.

Baggett was closing in on Roczen for the lead when he hit something hard enough in Turn 1 to bend his front wheel and jam his throttle wrist. Baggett was forced to the mechanics area, where he lost a lap and struggled to finish 33rd. Knowing he had given up the opportunity for a strong finish without any points from Moto 1, Baggett nursed his wrist in Moto 2 and climbed to 14th in that race. He would finish 16th overall.

“Today didn’t go my way,” said Baggett in a team release earlier this week. “I felt like I had the speed out there to battle at the front, just had a few issues that kept me from being up there. We have some work to do this week and I am looking forward to a better result at Thunder Valley, where I grabbed my first 450MX win.”

Slow starts have been part of Baggett’s recent seasons, but he has a reason to be optimistic about Thunder Valley.

In his first 450MX season of 2015, Baggett finished fifth at Hangtown and seventh at Glen Helen in the first two rounds before scoring his first career podium finish.

His first 450MX victory came in 2017 after finishing sixth in Hangtown and third at Glen Helen.

Last year, Baggett’s first MX podium of the season came in Round 3 at Thunder Valley after finishing third in both Motos – after finishing fifth and seventh in the first two rounds just as he did in 2015.

In 2018, Baggett ended the Supercross season with a pair of podium finishes before. This year, he also surged at the conclusion of the SX season with a second at Nashville and a narrow miss of the podium in New Jersey.

Baggett might also take consolation in the fact that his slow starts have not been limited to MX.

The start of the 2019 MX season has been his second-worst on record with an eight overall at Hangtown and 16th at Pala, but it is in the same general range as the start of this this year’s Supercross season. He struggle mightily in Round 1 and 3 at Anaheim with a 12th- and 15th-place finish respectively. Baggett won Round 2 at Glendale and stood on the podium two weeks later in Oakland.

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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