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Blog: Money changes in NASCAR

FONTANA, Calif. -- Sprint Cup Series teams appear to be racing for just a little bit less money in 2015 as NASCAR has quietly increased the purses for its two national developmental series while Sprint Cup purses have dropped by a tick this year.

NASCAR Chairman Brian France said last year that NASCAR would consider giving Xfinity (formerly Nationwide) Series and Camping World Truck Series teams a bigger portion of the new television deal that went into effect this year.

That is what NASCAR has done, although it won't say by how much. It never announced the change, but it did confirm to ESPN.com that that was the case when asked about the change in the purses after the first four races.

In comparing the purses for the first four tracks to what the purses for those tracks' races were last year, the only Sprint Cup race to have an increase in purse was the Daytona 500. It certainly wasn't much of an increase at $24,408, virtually nothing (up 0.1 percent) when considering the purse was $19.8 million. The rest have gone down, none by more than $98,000 -- the purses for the three races since Daytona have been between $5 million and $6.5 million -- for an overall season drop of 0.2 percent for the first four races.

Xfinity races, though, are up 9.1 percent with increases of $60,000 to $155,000 per race; Xfinity purses this year generally are $1.1 million-$1.5 million (the opener was $2.66 million).

The truck race at Daytona was up 16.4 percent to $806,373, and that was for a 32-truck field instead of a 36-truck field. There was no Atlanta truck race last year with which to compare the earlier purse.

"What you will see is that [change] pretty much consistent across the season," NASCAR Vice President Jim Cassidy told ESPN.com Friday at Auto Club Speedway. "It was a great opportunity for the Xfinity Series as well as the trucks to really take a look at the value of those properties in this most recent broadcast arrangement. ... We spent a lot of time looking at the business model at all the levels of racing, especially at the three national series.

"We understand what it takes for a team to field a car or truck."

In previous contracts, NASCAR had put 93.75 percent of its television money toward Cup, 5.75 percent to Xfinity and 0.5 percent to trucks. Those numbers were revealed by Dover International Speedway in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission when it operated non-Cup tracks near Nashville and Memphis in Tennessee and near St. Louis.

It appears that the truck purses, which typically ranged from $400,000 to $600,000 last year, got a significant increase as part of the new deal.

"It really speaks to the success what this series has done," Cassidy said. "It's still the newest of our three national series and has seen a significant amount of growth over the years. The timing was right to see those [purse] gains."

NASCAR is in the first year of a 10-year, $8.2 billion deal in which NASCAR gets 10 percent of the money, the tracks get 65 percent and the teams get 25 percent through the purse (the same as in the past). The increase in the NASCAR television contract this year from last year is 3.8 percent, according to the France-family controlled International Speedway Corporation, and increases will be 3-5 percent each year with an average of 3.9 percent over these next 10 seasons.

Not every race is worth the same amount of television money. The Daytona 500 obviously would be the biggest, and the rest often are determined by NASCAR depending on a variety of factors including the market where the race is being held.

For the Daytona 500, the television contribution to the purse was up just 0.11 percent and the track/NASCAR contribution was down 1.6 percent. Cassidy said that, overall across all three series, the track contribution to purses has increased this year.

The Cup owners knew there wouldn't be an increase in purses this year. Rob Kauffman, Michael Waltrip Racing co-owner and Race Team Alliance chairman, said when asked about the purses in Daytona that he wasn't looking at the race-to-race increases/decreases and expected that purses would be flat in 2015. In the past five years, the typical Daytona 500 purse increase has been somewhere between 1 and 2.5 percent each year.

"Everyone has got their budgets for '15; everything is set; we've had good discussions with NASCAR about the TV money, the purses and how it all works," Kauffman said last month at Daytona. "There's nothing surprising for the teams, not for the major teams.

"I've only looked at the whole season [projections]. More or less, if you take the TV money and the purse together, that amount is flatish. Over the next couple of years, it will compound at the low single-digit number. For the major teams, you're only talking about 25 percent of your budget or so."