INDIANAPOLIS — The Indy Racing League delivered on its promise of a record payoff for the Indianapolis 500.

Scott Dixon, who won the race on Sunday, took home a record prize of $2,988,065 at the annual victory dinner Monday night. It was nearly double the former record of $1.76 million to Buddy Rice in 2004, and the total purse of $14.4 million broke the previous record of $10.7 million handed out last year.

“We sat down and talked over the purse structure and thought the increase was significant and appropriate for the greatest spectacle in racing,” Speedway president Joie Chitwood said.

The increases for first place and total purse marked the largest one-year jumps in the race’s 92-year history. The total prize package also was a record for open-wheel racing and was second in all of auto racing to NASCAR’s Daytona 500 at about $18 million.

“It’s really substantial and we spread the wealth pretty well over the entire field of 33,” Chitwood said.

The expected increases were announced — although not the exact amounts — last fall, well before the Indy Racing League’s unification with the former Champ Car Series. Chitwood said the prize restructuring was part of the IRL’s new incentive program to draw additional teams and drivers into the full IndyCar schedule.

Under the new setup, each car in the 500 this year was guaranteed at least $270,000, with full-time series drivers getting at least $300,000. That’s more than $100,000 more than the lowest prize last year. Runner-up Vitor Meira earned $1.27 million, a record for second place and $3,000 more than Helio Castroneves received for winning the race in 2001.

Marco Andretti took home $782,065, also a record for third place. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished sixth, received $328,065, including a $25,000 award as rookie of the year

The IRL also is guaranteeing $1.2 million for each car competing in the entire 18-race season.

“We’ve seen such a great interest from fans and sponsors, a lot of new partners jumping on board, it just made sense for the Speedway as we’re getting ready for our centennial (in 2009),” Chitwood said.

He said the prizes likely will continue to rise, although it’s “probably not realistic” to expect similar increases every year.

Besides the guaranteed prizes at Indy, the top five finishers at each of the other IRL races also receive bonuses. The overall series champion also will continue receiving a $1 million bonus, and the next four after that will receive lesser bonus amounts.

Dixon’s total for winning, which included $51,750 for leading 115 laps, was more than $1 million more than his combined earnings for his five previous starts at Indy and moved his career total in the 500 to $4,881,997, fifth among all drivers.

The all-time money-winners are former winners Arie Luyendyk and Al Unser Jr. with $6.1 million and $6.0 million, respectively. Castroneves and Buddy Lazier have won about $5.6 million each, and Dixon is next. Dixon’s teammate, former winner Dan Wheldon, received $366,815 for 12th place and moved up to 11th in career winnings at $3.4 million.

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