Weston Anderson becomes first Monster Jam title holder of 2022

Weston Anderson Monster Jam
Feld Entertainment, Inc.

Monster Jam crowned their first series champion of the 2022 season last weekend as Weston Anderson scored enough points in Southaven, Mississippi, to clinch the Arena East title. The crown comes in Anderson’s first year of competition. 

“I clinched it halfway through one of our events,” Anderson told NBC Sports. “We had some truck issues prior to it, so I didn’t know if I would actually get it that weekend or not.

“When they announced it, I blew it off for a second and then it set in. I realized how much hard work we put into it and got super emotional. I cried on the microphone.  It felt great, to finally get it out of the way. It was a lot of pressure off my shoulders.”

Anderson’s success this year came after a shaky start due to an older truck that was scheduled to be retired at the end of the year. That uncertainty had Anderson, 19, questioning whether he had what it took to battle in the series.

“I was going to finish out my season in it,” Anderson said of his early season doubt. “I didn’t feel as comfortable as I could’ve been. I wasn’t doing very good and thought that it was just my driving. That I wasn’t up to par with the other drivers. It was taking me down a little bit, I’m not going to lie.”

During the third race weekend in Hampton, Virginia, the truck had its last hurrah as Anderson hit the side of the jump sideways and ended up corkscrewing through the air. the accident ripped off the back of the chassis. 

For a second there, I didn’t know if I was going to have a job after that,” Anderson said. “We were trying to figure out if we were going to fix the truck in time, and there was no way possible. We had about 50 hours in the work week and it would’ve taken 48 hours to get it back to what it was.”

When Weston Anderson got his new truck early in the season, he set the competition on their head. Feld Entertainment, Inc.

Enter Grave Digger 37.

After the accident it was decided that a different truck would be provided to the Grave Digger Arena East team. A barely used, very shiny new Monster Truck.

“All along I thought Grave Digger 37 was an older truck than it was,” Anderson said. “I thought it was going to be a little bit ragged out, not going to lie. It got here and we saw how nice it was. Me and my crew guy looked at each other and the first thing he said was ‘you better not total this one.’

“I did not have that in mind one bit when it came in the door.”

Anderson grew more confident with the new rig and started to show his championship caliber. He excelled in his freestyle runs, which he perfected by watching the faces in the crowd. 

“I start off a little bit easy,” Anderson said of planning his runs. “I want to make sure I get the first 15 seconds on the clock so I can get a score at least. A lot of people don’t know this, but I pay attention to the people in the crowd – and the people in the back like my crew guy, Brad (Hilson) and everyone else’s crew guys during my runs.

“A lot of times you’ll see me go a little slower in the corner and take off super fast. That’s because I`m looking at people in the crowd and seeing reactions to what I just did. Most importantly, my crew guy, Brad, will come across the radio to me if I have a pretty good run going and he’ll say, ‘Burn it down!’ From that 15-second mark on, I’m honestly along for the ride. Letting the truck throw whatever it wants to.”

How to Watch Monster Jam

With three weeks to go in the 2022 season, Anderson became the first driver to clinch this year – and he carried on the family tradition. Feld Entertainment, Inc.

Just a few hours after Weston clinched his championship, his brother Ryan Anderson followed, clinching the championship for Stadium Series Yellow.

Grave Digger is a family affair, as the Anderson’s are the closest thing to royalty in the Monster Jam arena. Weston mirrors his father Dennis Anderson’s style, who retired from competition in 2016.

“I have a lot of the rhythm of my dad Dennis Anderson,” Weston said, “That’s what a lot of fans have told me that they see his driving style in mine and that’s what they want to see, since they haven’t seen him in six years.

I always have the high-flying action throttle rhythm of him. My brakes are always on fire by the end of a run because I’m getting on the ragged edge. I have to ride them sometimes to keep myself from getting too far away from myself.”

With the championship secured and three weekends left in the series, Anderson has no plans of backing down. The plan is to put on a good show for the fans, but Anderson has the added luxury to experiment let NBC Sports know that he has something brewing in the lab.

“The only thing that I am going to change is in my two-wheel skills competition,” Anderson said. “Everyone does moonwalks nowadays, and I want to try some different things.

“I don’t want to give too much information away. I have some things boiling in my mind. I’ve been messing around on simulators with Monster Trucks and trying these tricks. They have been working out on the simulator. Now I just have to bring it to real life. If I do, I think it will be pretty sweet. I think there will be a lot of hype on the internet about that.

“Freestyle, donuts and racing: I’m still throwing down 100 percent because the fans bought a ticket for the show and I want them to see what I’m capable of.”

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