SPEEDWEEKS NOTEBOOK; Daytona 500 Purse Rises to Record $15.97 Million

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The season-opening Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 15, will pay a record purse of $15,972,313, an increase of nearly $2 million from last year's posted awards.

It will be the biggest payout in stock car racing history, breaking the record of $14,030,129 set last year.

"The Daytona 500 is the ultimate prize in stock car racing," track president Robin Braig said. "It only stands to reason that the biggest race of the year command the biggest purse."

The race winner at Daytona International Speedway will take home a minimum of $1,391,730, with second place worth at least $986,325. The last-place finisher will earn a minimum of $177,058.

Michael Waltrip collected $1,419,406 for winning the rain-shortened 2003 race, with runner-up Kurt Busch taking home $1,027,101. The smallest amount paid last year was $166,476, which went to 42nd-place finisher Kenny Schrader.

Individual purses can vary because of contingency money given only to drivers who are part of a given sponsor's program or use that sponsor's product.

NASCAR RULES ON WIMMER

Scott Wimmer, who was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated last week in High Point, N.C., will be allowed to compete on the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

According to Jim Hunter, a vice president at NASCAR, the sanctioning body said it won't make any decisions about Wimmer's future until the legal process runs its course.

"We firmly believe in the judicial process," Hunter said. …