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Earlier start possible for Indy 500 to accommodate $20 million bonus
An earlier starting time for the Indianapolis 500 to accommodate drivers wishing to compete in it and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day is likely to happen, Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Jeff Belskus said this week.

"We're inclined to change our starting time," Belskus said. "We do want to try to make it happen."

Belskus said ABC, which owns television rights to the 500, has been consulted and hasn't indicated it would oppose a switch to 11 a.m. from the current 1 p.m.

The idea gained momentum in May when Bruton Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., proposed putting up a $20 million bonus for any driver who could win both races on the same day.

Smith and Indy Racing League CEO Randy Bernard were asked about the status of their negotiations last weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

"We've had some dialogue on some big ideas," Bernard said as Smith nodded his assent. Neither would elaborate.

Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart reiterated at New Hampshire that it's not something they would be interested in doing. Gordon suggested Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2000 Indy 500 winner, as the most logical candidate because his boss, Chip Ganassi, fields competitive teams in both series.

Reigning 500 champion Dario Franchitti, whose move to NASCAR was cut short by sponsorship issues in 2008, noted that just having the means to run both races isn't enough.

"You've got to win both to get the $20 million," he said with a laugh. "That's the tricky part." IndyStar.com
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