Originally created 08/02/97

NASCAR's biggest purse



INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - NASCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials announced Friday that the total purse for Saturday's Brickyard 400 has been raised to $4,965,217, thanks to some additional contingency and lap leader money from sponsors.

The purse was originally announced at just over $4.8 million.

The new number is by far the biggest payout in NASCAR history, outstripping the $4,695,547 paid out for the 1996 Brickyard 400.

The winner in the fourth Brickyard race has a good shot, depending on contingencies and lap leader money, of the breaking the all-time single race record of $613,000 paid to inaugural winner Jeff Gordon in 1994.

Dale Earnhardt won $565,600 in 1995 and Dale Jarrett got a check for $564,035 last year.

MORE MONEY: The Winston Cup leader bonus will go uncollected for the fourth straight race - unless series leader Jeff Gordon wins or has a very bad day in the Brickyard 400.

The bonus goes to any driver who wins and emerges from a race with the lead in points. On Sunday, it pays $40,000.

Gordon leads Mark Martin by 64 points, with Terry Labonte 114 back. They, along with Gordon, start far back in field, and figure to be longshots to win. Even with a victory, either would have to finish far ahead of Gordon to make up the point differential.

Gordon has banked the extra cash four times, collecting a total of $120,000. Dale Jarrett, who has a great chance to win the race but no mathematical opportunity to surpass Gordon in the points race, has won the bonus twice for a total of $30,000.

The bonus rolls over at $10,000 per race.

PIT STOPS: By winning the pole, Ernie Irvan became the 13th different driver to do so in 19 races this year. There were but 14 pole winners over the entire 31-race schedule in 1996. ... Dale Earnhardt's well-documented and career-worst drought is at 45 races. But it pales by comparison to Darrell Waltrip's winless run of 149. The worst dry spell among other big-time winners is Bill Elliott's 81-race losing streak. ... Kenny Irwin Jr., introduced Friday as Ernie Irvan's successor with Robert Yates Racing, is the busiest racer in town this weekend. He won a USAC Silver Crown race Wednesday night at nearby Indianapolis Raceway Park, and also drove in events there the next two nights.