NASCAR isn’t as lucrative as the more popular sports leagues in the United States such as the NFL and NBA, but the top drivers in the Cup Series can still earn more than $20 million per year on the racing circuit. The most famous NASCAR drivers over the past two decades have seen their net worths explode along with the popularity of the sport, but who is the richest driver in NASCAR history, and what is their net worth?
How much money do NASCAR drivers earn?
Like in any other sport, NASCAR drivers will make more or less money depending on how successful they are on the racetrack in a given year. The top drivers in the Cup Series can earn over $20 million per year in winnings, but most will come away from a single season with less than $1 million in earnings or maybe just above that mark.
In 2020, the 10 highest-paid drivers in the Cup Series earned a combined $120 million. Although that was higher than the previous year’s total, it pales in comparison to the $180 million combined total from a decade ago.
Last season, Kyle Busch led all of NASCAR with $17.8 million in earnings, according to Forbes. He made $16.1 million in salary and on-track earnings, plus another $1.7 million from endorsements.
Jimmie Johnson came in right behind Busch with $17.6 million in earnings himself, and Denny Hamlin was a little further back at $14.6 million. Kevin Harvick ($12.2 million) and Martin Truex Jr. ($11.5 million) filled out the top five.
The financial peak of NASCAR
In the late 2000s, NASCAR couldn’t have been more popular. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and even more Hall of Famers were competing on the racetrack week after week for the checkered flag, and earnings in NASCAR shot up as a result of the increased popularity.
In 2009, Earnhardt Jr. reached the $30 million mark for earnings in a single season. Gordon was right behind him with $27 million. The world’s top drivers during that time made so much money that they all remain near the top of the list of the richest NASCAR drivers to ever live.
Tony Stewart has a net worth of $90 million as of January 2021. Ahead of him is Jimmie Johnson, who boasts a net worth of $160 million. Jeff Gordon has them both beat with a net worth of $200 million, but none of them even come close to the richest NASCAR driver of all time.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the richest NASCAR driver of all time
Dale Earnhardt Jr. might have never won a single Cup title during his iconic career. He might only be 30th on the all-time wins list in NASCAR history, but he’s by far the richest NASCAR driver to ever live.
As of January 2021, Earnhardt Jr. has a stunning net worth of $300 million.
Earnhardt Jr. finished his racing career with just 26 wins in 19 years, but it wasn’t his winning pedigree that made him such a valuable asset for NASCAR. He filled the seats every time he showed up at a racetrack. Earnhardt Jr. was named Nascar’s most popular driver for 14 straights years during his career, and he used that popularity to land endorsement deal after endorsement deal. It didn’t hurt that his last name was Earnhardt, either.
Earnhardt Jr. finished his NASCAR career with over $400 million in earnings, according to Forbes. It’s probably safe to say he’s having a decent time in retirement.
All net worth figures courtesy of Celebrity Net Worth