NASCAR’s wealthiest drivers in 2015

Photo by Benjamin Palmer/

Dale Earnhardt Jr. poses with a fan at Phoenix International Raceway in March 2015. 

Syndicated Column
September 15, 2015

In the heat of the action, money sometimes feels utterly irrelevant and most NASCAR fans pay little heed to what their favorite drivers earn in a given year.

But the salaries paid to the biggest names in NASCAR have a huge bearing on the sport’s infrastructure, its profile around the world, and the way that new talent is nurtured.

It might seem like a minor concern when you’re watching the action, or betting on racing events taking place throughout the season, but it is worth keeping in mind just where some of the highest salaries in motorsport are going.

Here is a quick rundown of 2015’s highest paid drivers, based on the figures published earlier this year by renowned business magazine, Forbes.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The 12-time Most Popular Driver in NASCAR is reported to have a net worth of around $300 million after just over 15 years at the very top of the sport.

The “Pied Piper of Daytona” is known to be a humble, understated guy, but that doesn’t stop legions of adoring fans from following him around the country and in the media.

Photo by Brian DeGruchy/

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolls off of pit road during a practice session at Phoenix International Raceway in March 2015. 

The huge interest in Earnhardt’s career, heightened from the start by the legacy and legendary status of his father, has made him a fan favorite and also a major focus for advertisers and endorsers.

With endorsements including Chevrolet, Wrangler and eBay, Earnhardt brings in $9million of non-sports related income, which he then tops up with around $14.6million in winnings.


Jimmie Johnson

Hot on the tail of Earnhardt in the earning stakes is Jimmie Johnson, who is a year younger than Dale but has, like Earnhardt, built up an earning power all of his own that is not far from making him one of motorsport’s highest paid performers.

Photo by Brian DeGruchy/

Jimmie Johnson turns laps at Phoenix International Raceway in March 2015.

The Californian, who is said to have raced motorcycles from the age of four years old, is now a six-time Sprint Cup Series champion, and a two-time Daytona 500 winner, and his stellar reputation has earned him endorsement deals including high-paying contracts with The Gap and Gatorade.

Johnson will pick up $6.5 million in endorsements and licensing in 2015, on top of his estimated $16 million salary from racing.

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon has been a household name in NASCAR for over 20 years, and his annual earnings reflect the extremely high regard within which he is held right across the spot.

Having won the Sprint Cup Series Championship on four separate occasions, Gordon now sits third on the series’ list of drivers with the most wins with 92 to his name.

He had indicated that 2015 is to be his final year in the sport

Photo by Brian DeGruchy/

Jeff Gordon addresses the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in  March 2015.

Yet, estimates suggest he will add annual earnings of $14.1 million and endorsements of a further $4.5 million, making his net worth somewhere in the region of $150 million to $200 million.

Kevin Harvick

Photo by Dante Ricci/

Kevin Harvick celebrates his Sprint Cup Series victory at Phoenix International Raceway in March 2014.

Winning the Sprint Cup Title in his first season at Stewart-Haas Racing has not only put Kevin Harvick's name as a great within the sport, it has substantially increased his earnings.

The 39-year-old, who hails from Bakersfield, California, has become the fourth highest earner in NASCAR in terms of merchandise sales, and his endorsements amount to an annual sum of $2.5million.

Add this to his race winnings of $13 million and you can see why Kevin Harvick is celebrating this year.

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