The Daytona 500 is, without a doubt, NASCAR’s most well-known motorsports event. The race draws the most TV viewership as each driver attempts to start the season off with a strong start. With that also comes some significant earnings for taking the checkered flag.
Daytona 500 history
Over the years, the Daytona 500 has held a prestigious place in NASCAR history well beyond its long list of winners.
The 500-mile long track has been part of the sport since 1959, which has drawn the largest ratings over the last two decades. According to the Wayback Machine, the 2006 Daytona 500 garnered 20 million TV viewers, the sixth largest average live global TV audience of any sporting event in that year.
Many of the sports’ greatest drivers have earned the honor of celebrating in victory lane on multiple occasions. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty holds the all-time mark with seven wins at the event, while Carl Yarborough is second with four victories.
Meanwhile, several big names such as Bobby Allison, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, and Denny Hamlin are all tied with three career wins. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also holds more wins (two) than his father, Dale Earnhardt, who took over two decades to win his first Daytona 500.
The event holds a special place in NASCAR as it’s not only an iconic track, but it kicks off the Cup Series each season. Beyond its rich history, there are significant winnings ahead for the driver that speed into victory lane this year.
How much money do NASCAR drivers make for winning the Daytona 500?
The Daytona 500 is the race that every driver hopes to win each year.
There is an even bigger monetary lure for those competing in the event as it historically brings forth the largest winnings for any NASCAR event. The amount of money at stake for taking first place in the race hasn’t been shared since 2015.
However, it’s not difficult to narrow down the winning driver’s earnings for the event. According to Sporting News, Joey Logano garnered $1,581,453 in 2015 after speeding into victory lane. That figure breaks to just under 9% (0.0878) of the $18 million purse for the entire year.
Using that percentage for the 2020 purse that was worth $23.6 million, the earnings for the Daytona 500 sits around $2.07 million that Denny Hamlin secured. All that makes it fair to assume that the winner will receive between $1.5 million to $2 million in this year’s event.
The drivers are well aware of what’s at stake with a chance to not only etch their place in NASCAR history but also receive a significant payday.
Plenty of storylines to follow
There are plenty of storylines at play heading into the 2021 Daytona 500.
Denny Hamlin has a golden opportunity to not only move into a tie with Carl Yarborough for second place on the all-time wins list, but he can also become the first driver to win it three years in a row. Hamlin currently sits alongside Yarborough, Richard Petty, and Sterling Martin as the only drivers to win the Daytona 500 in consecutive years.
Meanwhile, defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott aims to set the tone after capturing his first title. The 25-year-old has yet to win the event, as his 14th place finish in 2017 is his highest in his career.
Ryan Newman is also returning to the track a year after his scary accident in the event’s last lap. Newman earned the seventh spot in the pole position for the race.
Ultimately, the Daytona 500 will have plenty to watch as each driver looks to get off to a strong start to begin this season.