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Nascar’s Highest-Paid Drivers 2019 – Forbes

Nascar’s Highest-Paid Drivers 2019 – Forbes
23 Jul
4:44

NBC kicks off its Nascar Cup season coverage this Sunday with a race from Chicagoland Speedway on NBC Sports Network. It comes on the heels of Fox Sports posting a 2% ratings increase compared to 2018 for its first-half race schedule. The gain was a welcome change for the race series where ratings are off nearly 50% over the past decade.

Nascar has suffered from the retirement in recent years of many of its biggest names, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards and Danica Patrick. The lost star power has dented viewership but has given team owners a chance to reset the salary structure in the sport.

The days of the $10 million driver salary are just about done (Jimmie Johnson is the last remaining one, according to multiple sources). Salaries for new drivers are typically six figures with only a handful of drivers earning more than $4 million in base salary.

The 10 top-earning drivers made $116 million combined last year from salaries, endorsements and their share of race winnings and licensing revenue. The total is off 36% from a decade ago (46% adjusted for inflation). In addition to lower salaries, the downturn in licensing earnings and endorsements for the new crop of drivers has been steep.

Johnson is Nascar’s highest-paid driver for the second time in three years. He earned $17.5 million in 2018 by Forbes’ count from his Hendrick Motorsports salary and his cut of winnings and licensing. His earnings also include personal endorsements with the likes of Chevrolet, Gatorade and Seiko.

Johnson was Nascar’s top earner in 2018, but it was the worst season of his career, as he finished 14th overall and didn’t win a race for the first time in his career. Johnson has not been in the winner’s circle since June 2017.

It was the end of an era for Johnson and Nascar when Lowe’s left the sport at the end of the season. The home improvement chain signed on as primary sponsor of the No. 48 car in 2001 before Johnson had won a race. He proceeded to win 83 races and a record-tying seven Cup championships with Lowe’s. The season also marked the end of the 17-year partnership between Johnson and his crew chief Chad Knaus.

Digital financial services company Ally Financial inked a deal last fall to be the primary sponsor for all 38 races on the Nascar schedule for the No. 48 car. The contract covers the 2019 and 2020 season. Johnson is also signed with Hendrick through 2020.

Johnson’s $17.5 million tally last year is half of what Earnhardt earned a decade prior as the highest-paid Nascar driver. Below are the top-earning drivers in 2018.

1. Jimmie Johnson

Total Earnings: $17.5 million

Salary/winnings: $14 million

Endorsements/licensing: $3.5 million

Johnson has a stake in and his name on a Chevy dealership in San Diego. It’s a result of Hendrick Motorsport owner Rick Hendrick, who also owns one of the largest auto dealership groups in the U.S.

2. Kyle Busch

Total Earnings: $15.8 million

Salary/winnings: $13.8 million

Endorsements/licensing: $2 million

Busch won eight Cup races last year and leads the standings halfway through the 2019 season. The 2015 Cup champion won his 200th race this year combined across Nascar’s top three race series.

3. Denny Hamlin

Total Earnings: $14.2 million

Salary/winnings: $12.7 million

Endorsements/licensing: $1.5 million

After failing to reach Victory Lane in 2018, Hamlin started this year with a bang, capturing his second career Daytona 500 (his first Daytona was in 2016). FedEx has been part of Joe Gibbs Racing since 2005 and is the lone primary sponsor for Hamlin’s car. Hamlin has personal endorsement deals with big brand names Coca-Cola and Nike’s Jordan Brand.

4. Kevin Harvick

Total Earnings: $13.1 million

Salary/winnings: $11.6 million

Endorsements/licensing: $1.5 million

Harvick’s No. 4 car gets hefty sponsorship thanks to his consistent performance over the past decade, which includes top three finishes in the overall Cup standings seven of the past nine years. Merchandise sales for Harvick and the No. 4 car were second highest in Nascar last year.

5. Joey Logano

Total Earnings: $11 million

Salary/winnings: $9.6 million

Endorsements/licensing: $1.4 million

Last year when he won the Nascar Cup title, Logano fulfilled the immense promise he first showed on a big stage when he became the youngest winner ever of a Nationwide Series race in 2008 just after his 18th birthday. Logano is signed with Team Penske through 2023.

6. Brad Keselowski

Total Earnings: $10.4 million

Salary/winnings: $9.2 million

Endorsements/licensing: $1.2 million

The 2012 Cup champion invested more than $10 million to launch an advanced contract manufacturing company, Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, this year. The goal is to work with aerospace, military, and oil and gas companies.

7. Chase Elliott

Total Earnings: $9.5 million

Salary/winnings: $7.5 million

Endorsements/licensing: $2 million

Elliott ranks among top-earning drivers for the first time thanks to a new four-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports that started in 2018 and pushed his base salary into the mid-seven figures range. His licensed merchandise sales were highest among all drivers in 2018.

8. Kyle Larson

Total Earnings: $9 million

Salary/winnings: $8 million

Endorsements/licensing: $1 million

Larson lost one of his car’s sponsors, DC Solar, when the FBI raided its headquarters and the home of the company’s founders in December. DC Solar filed for bankruptcy in February.

9. Martin Truex

Total Earnings: $8.2 million

Salary/winnings: $7.3 million

Endorsements/licensing: $900,000

Truex finished second in the 2018 Cup standings but lost his ride when Furniture Row ceased operations. The 2017 Cup champion landed on his feet with a multi-year deal with Joe Gibbs Racing.

10. Clint Bowyer

Total Earnings: $7.3 million

Salary/winnings: $6.6 million

Endorsements/licensing: $700,000

Bowyer’s win at Martinsville last year ended a 190-race winless streak that stretched back to 2012. He backed it up with a June win at the Michigan International Speedway.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2019/06/30/nascars-highest-paid-drivers-2019/

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