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NASCAR Drivers Who Broke The Bank With Their Career Earnings

Cameron EittreimJune 17, 2021

NASCAR is one of the most popular motorsports in the world with annual revenue that totals over a billion dollars. The sport has grown exponentially in the last 30 years and the drivers have become well-known personalities as a result.

NASCAR drivers get all kinds of different endorsement deals similar to other sports leagues such as the NBA and NFL. With those endorsements comes a boatload of sponsorship money for the driver and the organization. More wins translate to more money for a driver, but personality is key as well. Read on as we rank the 20 richest NASCAR drivers of all time.

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20: Denny Hamlin – $30 Million

James “Denny” Hamlin has carefully crafted a reputation as a championship driver with a great personality. Hamlin pilots the No. 11 car for Joe Gibbs Racing, and he was one of the first drivers to embrace Toyota entering the sport. Because of Hamlin’s knack for both the track and marketing, he’s been able to secure many lucrative endorsement deals. One of the largest endorsement deals came from Toyota when the 2012 Camry debuted.

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After Hamlin won the 2016 Daytona 500, his reputation continued to improve on the track. It also helped out that senior drivers such as Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart had hung their boots up. These days, Hamlin still drives for Joe Gibbs Racing. It seems like he’s going to retire with that organization, and with a cool net worth of $30 million, that shouldn’t be a problem.

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19: Michael Waltrip – $35 Million

One of the most recognized names in the sport is Michael Waltrip. From the humble beginnings of his career in 1981 to driving the Penzoil #30 car for almost a decade, Waltrip has had a career like no other on the racetrack, and it’s been financially rewarding. In addition to racing for three decades, Waltrip is also a NASCAR analyst for FOX Sports.

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Waltrip raced for Premium Motorsports and is still active from time to time, last racing in the 2017 Daytona 500. The interesting thing about Waltrip is the fact that he has managed to remain culturally relevant and healthy. To this day, Waltrip remains one of the most well-known and popular NASCAR drivers and analysts.

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18: Brad Keselowski – $45 Million

Keselowski is still a young racer at the age of 37, but that doesn’t mean he is lacking in the financial department. His reputation for driving supremacy has been spot on, and his skills continue to develop every race. Keselowski has also crafted a nice network for himself being one of the most popular drivers currently on the circuit.

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Aside from his duties as a driver, Keselowski has been involved in advertising and continues to show his face around the world. There aren’t a lot of drivers who could craft such a successful career so early on, but Keselowski is an enigma in the sport.

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17: Jeff Burton – $45 Million

When it comes to a driver with a considerable amount of wealth, Burton is near the top of the list. How did Burton build up his wealth? He had several very lucrative endorsements over his career. The most notable aspects of his career were the three wins at the Jiffy Lube 300 and a Coca-Cola 600 series win. These corporate sponsorships were very lucrative and are the types of cash infusions that new drivers look forward to.

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The final and most lucrative part of Burton’s career came in the form of a sponsorship from Caterpillar. If you are familiar with the construction industry then you know that Caterpillar is a giant company with a lot of financial backing. This endorsement deal proved to be the icing on the cake for Burton before he quietly retired in 2014.

NASCAR drivers bid early farewell to Kasey Kahne amid health issues

16: Kasey Kahne – $50 Million

Kahne has a track record of winning with 18 total cup series wins throughout his career and he is still very much an active NASCAR driver. Kahne has also made a name for himself in the country music industry, appearing in the “Smoke a Little Smoke” music video by Eric Church.

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Kasey Kahne Racing is owned by Kahne and the entity handles everything from branding to motion pictures. Having a business mind in the sport of NASCAR is important to grow your net worth during a short period. Sports stars don’t have a very long shelf life and the same can be said for NASCAR drivers, so Kahne has put his career in the right direction.

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15: Cale Yarborough – $50 Million

Yarborough is one of the original NASCAR stars that helped to break the sport out from its Southern roots. NASCAR was much different than it is today in the 1960s and ’70s, but Yarborough managed to carve out a name for himself in the modern era as well. Yarborough had two top-five finishes when he was running the No. 29 Oldsmobile Delta 88. For a long period, he owned Cale Yarborough Motorsports, a dominant force in NASCAR until his retirement.

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After closing his team in 2000, Yarborough seemingly disappeared from the NASCAR limelight. Yarborough’s run was one of the most impressive in the industry and it rewarded him quite well financially. You’ll see still Yarborough at NASCAR events from time to time, but it’s a lot less often than it was at the peak of his popularity in the sport.

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14: Greg Biffle – $50 Million

Biffle shot to popularity in the early 2000s as a new group of drivers were making a name for themselves. Biffle started his NASCAR career in 1996 and even in semi-retirement, he is still very much active in the sport. With a net worth of $50 million, Biffle would never have to work another day of his life if he didn’t want to, but of course, that isn’t going to happen. Recently, Biffle has taken up outlaw off-road racing and is doing quite well at it.

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When he isn’t tearing up some kind of dirt or pavement, Biffle has had some lucrative endorsement deals over his career. The most notable endorsement deal was the one that he had with 3M household products. Biffle also does part-time commentary on FOX Sports for the NASCAR events, but his true passion has always been racing.

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13: Kurt Busch – $50 Million

Kurt Busch is part of a racing dynasty that includes Kyle Busch, but Kurt has always been different than his brother. Busch is known as the bad boy of NASCAR and that’s a reputation that he doesn’t take lightly. But it’s not just being a rebel that has made Busch an extremely popular racer, it’s his knowledge and skill behind the wheel. Busch has constantly been ranked as a top 10 racer.

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Busch built up an amazing net worth over his 20-plus-year career thanks to lucrative endorsement deals like the one he had with Monster Energy. There aren’t a lot of drivers who have been able to cultivate a career quite as Busch did as his NASCAR chops and personality are unparalleled in the sport.

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12: Matt Kenseth – $60 million

Kenseth was a force to be reckoned with during the height of his run. Kenseth starting cup racing in the 1998 season and the results were promising, filling in for the legend Bill Elliott. Sponsorships were a major part of Kenseth’s income like many racers. Dewalt was a major sponsor for Kenseth, who signed with the company early in his career.

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More recently, Kenseth has taken a backseat to professional driving, as his son Ross is taking the reigns. His other business ventures involve his museum and various stints as a NASCAR analyst for FOX. Matt Kenseth will go down as one of the most consistent racers to participate in the sport over his career.

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11: Richard Petty – $60 million

Petty is one of the most well-known names in the sport of NASCAR, and naturally with that reputation comes skill. He won the very first Daytona 500 in 1959 and is a second-generation driver in the sport. Petty also had a knack for marketing himself as a business early on, which contributed to his lofty net worth. Aside from endorsement deals for various products, Petty also opened the Richard Petty Racing Museum.

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As the owner of Petty Motorsports, Petty is well-appointed to handle the day-to-day operations of a NASCAR brand. His style of management is personable and Petty is still a person that a lot of people recognize and look up to. With the skills to win any race and a business mind behind it, Petty has been able to carve out a net worth like few in NASCAR ever have or will.

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10: Carl Edwards – $70 Million

Edwards has cultivated a reputation as a larger-than-life driver, often doing backflips off of his car after a victory. Aside from the acrobatics, Edwards also has smart business savvy, with his latest business venture being his record label Back 40 Records. Edwards is also a commentator for NASCAR on NBC when he isn’t on the track, and also an actor as well.

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Because Edwards has been able to leverage his business and entrainment experience, he has cultivated quite the net worth at the age of 41. Edwards is a multitalented driver with a welcoming personality, and that’s something people can relate to both in business and sports.

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9: Kevin Harvick – $70 million

Harvick has the nickname of “The Closer” for a reason, having a racing career that dates back to 1992. Harvick is the oldest tenured driver still in a cup series and also ranked third in NASCAR behind Richard Petty and Kyle Busch. Harvick knew that he needed to have a profitable career early on so he founded Kevin Harvick Incorporated. The motorsports company ran several professional race cars until it was absorbed into another brand in 2012.

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Harvick also runs a sports management company that has quite a few successful names on its roster of talent. NASCAR racers need to find all the ways that they can to make money, and Harvick is no different. His impressive network is a combination of winning and smart business decisions over his lengthy career.

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8: Mark Martin – $70 million

Martin is an interesting case study of what can happen if drivers manage their health correctly. Because he’s been a fitness enthusiast since a young age, he was able to race well into his fifties. Martin authored the best-selling book on health and fitness and has been known to do workouts before a race. In addition to the book adding to his net worth, Martin owns four successful car dealerships as well.

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Recently, Martin has been enjoying being retired from the racing scene but he still operates his car dealerships. There aren’t a lot of drivers who have been able to maintain the long and prosperous career that Martin did. His determination on the track and emphasis on fitness has profited him tremendously over 30 years.

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7: Tony Stewart – $70 million

When you think of a name that’s associated with NASCAR it is usually Tony Stewart. The veteran NASCAR driver has been around for a long time and his endorsement deals were well known. Most notably Stewart has been the face of more than a dozen NASCAR video games, as well as appearing in TV advertisements for the Home Depot and more.

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Stewart has always had a business savvy to him and it helps that he won both an Indy Car championship and a NASCAR championship. Stewart also has a show on Sirius Satellite radio which has bolstered his audience quite a bit. Tony Stewart will go down as one of the most popular and well-known NASCAR drivers of all time.

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6: Ken Schrader – $75 million

Ken Schrader is one of the most prolific NASCAR racers of all time because he doesn’t just stick to NASCAR. Even at the age of 66 Schrader is still actively racing to this day, he races NHRA and Dirt Track all over the country. His company Ken Schrader Racing still gets plenty of lucrative endorsement deals, the most prominent of them being Federated Auto Parts.

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Schrader has carefully cultivated a network that is large enough to let him do whatever he wants to do. There is no sign that Schrader is going to be slowing down anytime soon, and his fans are enjoying every bit of it. Ken Schrader will undoubtedly be a hall of Famer soon and his ability to keep going is mighty impressive.

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5: Danica Patrick – $80 Million

Patrick has been one of the most popular motorsports celebrities of the new millennium. She broke barriers that were in the way of female drivers long before she ever got started. When she made the jump from the Indy Car circuit to NASCAR, there were some reservations. In the world of stock car racing, Patrick managed to secure quite a few monster finishes, including the fourth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011.

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The star racer’s career came to a close in 2018. After that, she focused her attention on being a businesswoman. Her advertising campaign with GoDaddy.com made the web hosting company one of the largest in the world. More recently, Patrick has been a staple in the racing podcasting world with multiple appearances on big-name shows.

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4: Kyle Busch – $80 Million

The younger of the two Busch brothers has carved quite the reputation and network for himself. Kyle went a slightly different route than his older brother and started Kyle Busch Motorsports. Although racing has been Busch’s bread and butter for the last decade, Kyle Busch Motorsports has also been quite a profitable venture. The total revenue for 2019 was $17.8 million and the more victories that Busch gets, the more money he’ll continue to earn.

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Even though NASCAR is long from the peak of its popularity, the drivers have still managed to create sizable incomes. Busch is no exception to this rule, and with his stellar reputation and decent business savvy, the young driver has done well for himself. Both Busch brothers have profited tremendously from NASCAR.

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3: Jimmie Johnson – $120 million

Johnson is one of the most well-known NASCAR racers in the world, and he’s still only 45. The veteran racer has managed to cultivate a reputation as a family man and a determined driver. These positive attributes have made Johnson a very marketable driver and landed him more than his fair share of endorsement deals.

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Even without the endorsement deals, Johnson has still managed to win race after race with a set of almost unmatched skills. Johnson manages to win races without any shady tricks or cheating, which has bolstered his reputation. It also helps that Johnson is the owner of his own motorsports company.

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2: Jeff Gordon – $150 million

Winning races is the most important aspect of being a driver, but being popular is also important. Gordon managed to fuse those two qualities into his racing career and became one of the most popular NASCAR drivers of all time. Gordon is credited with growing the sport tremendously during the boom period from the ’90s on.

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Nowadays, Gordon is a commentator for FOX but it’s been said that he is going to be taking a larger management role at Hendrick Motorsports. Few drivers are as impressive behind the wheel as Gordon is, and it’s a shame he had to retire.

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1: Dale Earnhardt Jr. – $300 million

Earnhardt Jr. sort of had success dropped in his lap in the form of his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr. But that doesn’t mean that the younger Earnhardt didn’t work for what he had. Dale Jr. got off to a rough start in his career, but by 2003 he started to show promise. With a friendly personality and a desire to make his late dad proud, Earnhardt Jr. has managed to become arguably the biggest star in NASCAR.

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The driver also earned a ton of money from endorsement deals and television show appearances. Earnhardt Jr. also hosts a weekly radio show which has become quite popular and he is a part-owner of a motorsports company. The Earnhardt bloodline runs deep, so it’s no surprise Earnhardt Jr. has been so successful.

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