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NASCAR Winston Cup point fund takes big jump

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Jan. 11, 2000)
NASCAR Winston Cup Series sponsor R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing announced Tuesday that the NASCAR 2000 point fund -- the year-end money awarded to the top-25 drivers in the championship point standings -- for the series will be increased to a record $10 million.

As part of the increased point fund, the champion's share will increase from $2 million to $3 million and the runner-up will get $1,050,000. It marks the first time in the history of the point fund that two drivers will be guaranteed over $1 million.

As the popularity of NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing has increased, so has the point fund. After starting at $100,000 in 1971, the figure rose to $750,000 by 1985. Winston and NASCAR broke new ground in 1986 when the point fund increased to $2 million and the champion's share to $400,000. In 1989, the point fund reached $2,500,000 with the champion collecting $1 million. By 1998, the total had jumped to $5 million with the champion's share at $2 million.

"The NASCAR Winston Cup Series has come a long way since 1971 when the point fund started at $100,000," said Richard M. Sanders, president of RJR's Sports Marketing Enterprises. "NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing continues to experience tremendous growth, and we feel it's necessary to keep the sport as competitive as possible.

"By increasing the point fund to $10 million next year, we feel it will create even more excitement and competition among the race teams. That intense competition on the track continues to attract new fans to NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing, making it one of the most popular sports in America."

The 2000 season marks the first time in American motorsports history that a major series' point fund will eclipse the $10 million mark. To put it in perspective, the initial NASCAR Winston Cup Series point fund, which was worth a total of $100,000 in 1971, represents one percent of the $10 million total that awaits NASCAR Winston Cup Series competitors in 2000.

"As we enter the first season of the new millennium today's announcement is another example of how we are working more and more to enhance our sport in ways that directly benefit our drivers and teams," said Mike Helton, senior vice president and chief operating officer for NASCAR. "Working with Winston and our tracks, the series is well positioned for the future. This ensures that the best motorsports competitors in this country will continue to compete in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series."

The $10 million point fund includes a guaranteed $9,660,000 to be awarded to the top-25 drivers at the conclusion of the NASCAR 2000 season, as well as $340,000 in NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus money that will be competed for during the course of the season. The bonus program awards $10,000 to the driver who is leading the point standings and wins a race and the money carries over from race to race until an eligible driver wins.

The total point fund includes money from Winston, NASCAR and the tracks that host NASCAR Winston Cup Series events.

Defending NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Dale Jarrett, who won more than $3.6 million total in 1999, was present at the announcement, and it took even him a few moments to process the $10-million figure.

"That's a pretty incredible number," Jarrett said after counting the seven zeroes on a display screen. "It just shows where our sport is going and what's happening -- good things that are happening.

"Obviously when I started racing 20-some years ago I had no idea that we'd be looking at these kinds of dollars. That's exciting, and I would say that when guys hear about this, that each and every race is gonna be more exciting.

"Certainly when we get to Daytona in just a few weeks, everybody's gonna be excited. Everybody that comes to Daytona is excited because everybody's on the same ground right then. Nobody has any points, and everybody believes that they can win the championship and win races.

"I think it's absolutely great having the additional money coming into the sport. It's beneficial for our team and all the teams and car owners the way the sport continues to grow. Having a great car owner like Robert Yates, I know opportunities like this only strengthen our race team."

Since Winston's initial involvement in 1971, it has contributed roughly $89 million in purse, bonus and point-fund money. That figure includes the yearly sponsored Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, the longest-running sponsorship in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series; The Winston, regarded as the division's "all-star" event; the NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus; and the Winston "No Bull 5" bonus program, which contributed $6 million in the 1999 season to drivers and fans alike.

"NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing has been good for Winston, and I think we have been good for NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing," said Sanders. "We feel fortunate to be able to increase the incentive for the drivers and crews because they are the ones who've helped play a major role in making this sport the success it is today."

Including post-season NASCAR Winston Cup Series point fund money, a record 38 of the top-40 NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers won more than $1 million in 1999 and a record 15 of the drivers earned better than $2 million. The previous high in both categories was in 1998 with 32 drivers earning a minimum of $1 million and 10 drivers winning $2 million or better.

The 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup Series seasons kicks off on Feb. 20 with the 42nd running of the Daytona 500. The 2000 schedule includes 34 championship point events at 21 facilities in 19 states around the country.

The following is a breakdown of the $10 million NASCAR Winston Cup Series point fund that will be competed for in 2000 as well as a year-by-year history of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point fund.

1. $3,000,000 13. 200,600
2. 1,050,000 14. 194,800
3. 722,000 15. 189,000
4. 564,000 16. 183,200
5. 481,000 17. 177,400
6. 408,000 18. 171,600
7. 360,000 19. 165,800
8. 312,000 20. 160,000
9. 273,000 21. 81,000
10. 244,000 22. 79,500
11. 217,000 23. 78,000
12. 206,400 24. 76,500
25. 65,500

Total point fund distribution for positions 1-25: $9,660,000
NASCAR Winston Cup Leader Bonus: 340,000
TOTAL POINT FUND $10,000,000

Year Total Champion's Share
2000 $10,000,000 $3,000,000
1999 5,000,000 2,000,000
1998 5,000,000 2,000,000
1997 4,000,000 1,500,000
1996 4,000,000 1,500,000
1995 3,500,000 1,300,000
1994 3,000,000 1,250,000
1993 3,000,000 1,250,000
1992 2,500,000 1,000,000
1991 2,500,000 1,000,000
1990 2,500,000 1,000,000
1989 2,500,000 1,000,000
1988 2,000,000 400,000
1987 2,000,000 400,000
1986 2,000,000 400,000
1985 750,000 250,000
1984 500,000 150,000
1983 500,000 150,000
1982 300,000 75,000
1981 250,000 60,000
1980 210,000 49,500
1979 175,000 49,000
1978 175,000 49,000
1977 150,000 46,000
1976 150,000 44,000
1975 150,000 51,000
1974 140,000 46,000
1973 120,000 34,000
1972 100,000 39,000
1971 100,000 40,000
30 years $57,250,000

Copyright 1999 NASCAR and/or Starwave Corporation and ESPN Inc. All rights reserved. Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form.