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CASHING IN

Money winnings are among the most confusing aspects of auto racing. The amounts listed after races are actually won by the team fielding the car, not just the driver. The driver's contract determines how much he gets, but it's often 40 to 50 percent of the winnings.

For instance, in 2002, Michael Waltrip's team won the Pepsi 400 and collected $172,975, more than any other team. But here comes the confusion: Third-place Sterling Marlin won $158,292, more than second-place Rusty Wallace ($151,350). Thirty-ninth-place Tony Stewart won $102,038, almost twice what 38th-place Brett Bodine won ($54,575). How can that happen? The devil is in the decals:

Teams win money based on their finish in the race from the purse established by the track owner and from a share of the television rights fees.

Team owners become eligible for bonuses based on the past performance of their teams, both for the previous season and recent races. (These provide incentive for teams to keep racing at the end of the season even if they are not a championship contender.)

Teams get bonuses for performance in qualifying.

Teams win big bonuses from sponsors who offer "contingency award" programs. For instance, one sponsor offers $10,000 for the driver who leads the most laps, even if he doesn't win. Often, a sponsor requires a car to display a decal for its company and use its product to be eligible for a "contingency award." In some cases, a car might be sponsored by a competing company and thus not participate in that bonus program.

_ Compiled by Mike Stephenson.

AT A GLANCE

WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 tonight; Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach.

TV/RADIO: Ch. 8; WQYK-AM 1010.

TRACK: 2.5-mile oval.

MILES/LAPS: 400/160.

2002 WINNER: Michael Waltrip.

TICKETS: Call (386) 253-7223 or visit www.daytonaintlspeedway.com.

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