The Toyota 500 takes place Wednesday night at Darlington Raceway, and Ryan Newman will be back in the driver's seat of the No. 6 Ford Mustang, "ready" for a return to the track "too tough to tame." Ahead of the big race, Newman set the stage for the anticipated event by posting a photo of Bill Elliott's car.
Technically, the image didn't show Elliott's No. 9 Coors Ford, but it showed a scale model. The recreation sat at Newman's home, complete with sponsor logos. This photo is significant considering that he is heading back to Darlington Raceway on Wednesday night. Elliott enjoyed one of the biggest wins of his career at this track while securing a historic paycheck.
"That old Coors #9 is what made me a NASCAR fan. Good luck rest of the year Ryan," one fan wrote in response. Several others expressed excitement about the reference to "Million Dollar Bill" and his Ford Thunderbird. They were witnessing one of NASCAR's biggest drivers reminisce about a prior star and appreciated the respect. Although some noticed that this was the completed project that Newman and his daughters started in March.
The veteran driver originally posted a photo in late March that showed a model car box. He announced that his daughters would be putting together the Elliott model. Newman never posted the finished project, resulting in questions about its status. He provided those answers on Wednesday.
Back in 1985, Elliott took part in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He battled with Cale Yarborough and Dale Earnhardt while searching for the victory. While Earnhardt's No. 3 Chevrolet suffered engine failure on lap 349, Yarborough's Ford continued to remain a top contender. Elliott ultimately took the lead on lap 324 and never relinquished. He secured the win and the $1 million prize, which was the largest in NASCAR history.
R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, the title sponsor of NASCAR's premier series at the time, set up the massive payday but required a driver to win three of NASCAR's Big Four races. Elliott had won the Daytona 500 and Talladega's Winston 500, but he failed during Charlotte's Coca-Cola 600. Winning the Southern 500 achieved the goal. Elliott drove his way to the nickname, "Million Dollar Bill."
In the years since this historic win at Darlington, NASCAR has kept the prize purses under wraps. The governing body stopped publicizing the winnings in 2016 after reaching an agreement with team owners. However, NASCAR did reveal that driver Denny Hamlin secured roughly $2 million with his season-opening Daytona 500 win.