Fortune 15: NASCAR’s Richest Drivers
It’s no secret that professional athletes can get richer than royalty, but these NASCAR drivers have taken that to new extremes. Thanks to a winning combination of massive sponsorship deals, huge purses from finishing first and an array of advertising endeavors, these NASCAR stars have accumulated a net worth that’s made them richer than rich.
Joey Logano – $30,000,000
Joey Logano may be making way less than the other NASCAR stars that make up this list, but it’s for good reason, as the comparatively young driver still has decades of competition ahead of him.
Don’t let the baby face fool you, because Logano has been one of the sport’s top talents for years already.
Logano definitely earned the nickname “Sliced Bread” since he’s the best thing since it… in the racing world, at least. The Connecticut native’s net worth of roughly $30 million traces back to 2008 when he began his professional racing journey at only 18 years old.
Youngest Xfinity Winner
After becoming the youngest Xfinity Series race winner (18 years, 21 days) and youngest Sprint Cup Series winner (19 years, 35 days), sponsors knew this star in the making was way more than a hot commodity.
Home Depot was the first to cash in as Logano’s major sponsor before he switched from Joe Gibbs Racing to Team Penske.
Since 2013, Logano has been making dough while repping Shell-Pennzoil on his chest. He also rakes in the cash from major sponsors like AAA and Auto Club, both of which are plenty happy to be the major brands of the 2015 Daytona 500 winner.
Denny Hamlin – $45,000,000
For essentially the entirety of his impressive career, which dates back to 2005, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin has been the man in purple and orange.
The company that says “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” chose well in representing its brand, as Hamlin has been ranked in the Top 10 in all but a few seasons over his career.
Riding with FedEx since 2006 has been plenty lucrative for Hamlin, who has accumulated an estimated net worth of $45 million. In that time, Hamlin has collected a number of impressive achievements, including victory in the 2016 Daytona 500, to continually hit pay dirt.
Gotta Be The Brake Shoes
From Hamlin’s first full season driving in the Cup Series, where he was the 2006 Nextel Cup Series Rookie of the Year, to his victory at the 2016 Daytona 500, there has been plenty to celebrate.
Not only does his car look good, Hamlin is riding in style, rocking the Jordan Brand as one of his major sponsors.
Air Jordan has spread its wings to other sports, but Hamlin is the only one to rock the Jumpman logo on his firesuit and gloves. For someone worth as much as Hamlin, it’d be a crime if he wasn’t dripping in threads that scream swag.
Kasey Kahne – $50,000,000
On his way to being worth a cool $50 mil, Kasey Kahne has rolled through a number of major sponsors. There’s been Dodge Dealers, Budweiser, Red Bull and Great Clips just to name a few big names since beginning his NASCAR journey in 2002.
Kahne has enjoyed a great deal of success (obviously, since he’s on this list) with nearly 200 Top 10 finishes in the Cup Series. His most recent, and arguably notable, win came at the 2017 Brickyard 400. That win came while Kahne was finishing out the remainder of his sponsorship deal with Farmers Insurance, which revealed some interesting info.
A Devilish Dollar Amount
A dispute between Kahne’s then-racing team Hendrick Motorsports and Farmers Insurance revealed just how much dough he was rolling in. An ESPN report revealed that Farmers was paying Hendrick Motorsports a jaw-dropping $666,000 per race in 2017! Somehow, the number gets crazier.
From 2012-17, Farmers doled out over $67 million to Hendrick Motorsports to be the primary sponsor! Leavine Family Racing is likely hoping that $666,000 wasn’t a deal with the devil, because Kahne’s exit from the 2018 Cup Series was as early as it was abrupt.
Though Kahne announced he would step away from competing full-time, it’s safe to assume his pockets won’t be feeling any repercussions.
Kyle Busch – $55,000,000
Kyle Busch has been tearing up the racetrack since his early years and found success immediately upon turning 18 and competing professionally.
His NASCAR career picked up steam driving the No. 5 Chevy under Hendrick Motorsports with the Kellogg’s car.
Rather than sign a proposed contract extension in 2008, Busch decided to capitalize on his success and leave Hendrick Motorsports and switch to Joe Gibbs Racing where he’d begin driving the now iconic No. 18 Toyota M&M’s car.
Adding Busch to the JGR team was like giving a child bag of candy, because he exploded right out of the gate, winning the Xfinity Series in 2009.
Kyle Keeps On Trucking
After his Xfinity Series victory in ’09, Busch went on a tear, dominating the field, highlighted by his first-place Cup Series finish in 2015.
All of the wins alone has made the younger of the Busch brothers a very rich man, but M&M’s is far from the only sponsor to dole out the dollars for the stock car ace.
Other sponsors include Pedigree, Skittles, Interstate, NOS Energy Drink, Snickers and Alpinestars just to name a few. Busy as Busch keeps racing, he’s got his hands dipped into anything that’ll bring him more opportunity to compete and win (and make some extra dough), as the NASCAR record-holder also owns Kyle Busch Motorsports, has numerous trucks competing in the Camping World Truck Series.
Greg Biffle – $55,000,000
For nearly the entirety of his stock car racing career, Greg Biffle was one of Ford’s best drivers. A NASCAR career that spanned over two decades was rife with success wherever he went, winning races in all three NASCAR national series and becoming the first ever to win the Busch Series (now NXS) and Craftsman Truck Series.
With so much success and such a wide array of races, Biffle enjoyed a wealth of partnerships that helped build his personal brand to live like racing royalty.
Worth roughly $55 million today, Biffle has his years of racing for Roush Fenway Racing in the No. 16 car to thank, as he raced for owner Jack from 2003-16.
Biffle Flying High
Primary partners were something of a revolving door for Biffle. Grainger, National Guard, Charter, Ameriquest, Dish Network, 3M, Ortho and Kentucky Fried Chicken have all spent time as his major endorsers.
Since parting ways with Roush after the 2016 season, Biffle has been enjoying some downtime doing more than just serving as an NBC Sports analyst on NASCAR America.
If Biffle isn’t racing, then you can bet he’s still riding. The perks of being loaded means getting to spend that cash on the things you love, which he does by flying one of his THREE private planes—Cessna 210, Dassault Falcon 50, Dassault Falcon 10—and Bell 206 helicopter. For a more laid back day, he pilots his deep sea fishing boat out of Mexico.
Tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
Danica Patrick – $60,000,000
Danica Patrick may not have had the most illustrious racing career, just by simply looking at her career wins across all racing platforms. But her impact on the sport of car racing has been monumental when comparing her success to other female drivers.
On her way to becoming a one-woman advertising juggernaut, Patrick’ accumulated various sponsorships and deals while driving for Stewart-Haas Racing. Before officially retiring after the 2018 Indianapolis 500, Patrick had sponsors lined up for partnerships with major brands including Mobil 1, Aspen Dental and Nature’s Bakery.
There has always been one sponsor alone that has been synonymous with Danica Patrick: GoDaddy. Their partnership in two words? Cha-ching.
GoDaddy, Go Danica
Since first coming together in 2007, there’s arguably never been a more mutually beneficial partnership than what Patrick and GoDaddy have gotten out of one another. When Patrick’s “racy” Super Bowl ad premiered in 2009, the world needed to see what was up with then-IndyCar driver’s internet only version.
Since then, Patrick has appeared in a ridiculous 14 Super Bowl commercials, which has certainly played a giant part in helping her net worth grow to an estimated $60 million.
Staggering as the sums for her Super Bowl appearances may be, she’s also taken on endeavors outside of advertising, including ownership of her own “athleisure” clothing line, Warrior, and wine brand, Somnium, where she had her own vineyard in St. Helena (CA).
No doubt about it, Patrick’s impressive wealth is far from a fluke, as her entrepreneurial spirit is one that few NASCAR drivers ever have matched.
Matt Kenseth – $60,000,000
Matt Kenseth has been a cornerstone of NASCAR’s premier competition for the better part of two decades, and it shows in his career earnings of over $125 million between the Cup Series and Xfinity Series. Of course, Kenseth has an entire team behind him, cutting that lump sum in half to equal his net worth.
Kenseth has split the majority of his career between driving Ford for Roush Fenway Racing and Toyota with Joe Gibbs Racing. While he’s spent time with a host of numbers painted on his car, fans most notably associate Kenseth with his No. 17 DeWalt car.
Top 10 Titan
While DeWalt spent the most time as Kenseth’s main sponsor, others include Crown Royal, Home Depot, Fifth Third Bank and Dollar General.
No matter the sponsor, Kenseth likely left all of his partners satisfied, as those brands were sure to get some winning advertising.
Between the Cup Series and Xfinity Series, Kenseth has racked up an utterly insane number of races in the front of the pack, completing nearly 550 Top 10 finishes in fewer than 1,000 races.
As the biggest names NASCAR from the ‘90s and ‘00s retire, Kenseth continues his reign as one of the toughest talents in the sport.
Richard Petty – $65,000,000
Anyone nicknamed “The King” had better be legendary in whatever it is they do. The NASCAR Hall of Fame’s inaugural class member, Richard Petty, is 100 percent worthy of that title.
Petty’s NASCAR career looks like a made-up list of accomplishments that couldn’t hold more than a kernel of truth. Yet the legend of Richard Petty is very real.
It was Petty’s unbridled dominance during the course of his career that spanned over five decades (1958-92) that helped make him one of the richest drivers in NASCAR history, despite retiring long before the sport became the cash cow that it is today.
Petty swept away his competition while competing, winning the Cup Series a record seven times on his way to collecting 200 career wins. After retiring, his name has remained a staple via his Petty Enterprises racing team, which has since been renamed Richard Petty Motorsports after a merger.
The King is worth $65 million, because putting the name “Petty” on just about anything to do with NASCAR reels in dough.
From hopping in a stock car to enjoy The Richard Petty Racing to pouring a bowl of Richard Petty 43’s cereal, there’s been no wrong way to capitalize on his NASCAR success.
Dale Earnhardt Sr. – $70,000,000
Richard Petty may have been among the first stock car drivers to become a mainstream sports superstar, but there’s no arguing that Dale Earnhardt Sr. truly transcended the sport before his life was tragically cut short at age 49 after crashing in the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.
Call him, “The Intimidator,” or “The Man in Black,” or “The Count of Monte Carlo,” or even “Mr. Restrictor Plate,” No. 3 will always be remembered as “legend.”
Earnhardt had built a racing empire before that put his net worth at roughly $65 million before his life was cut short in ’01.
The Face Of NASCAR
Earnhardt split time serving as the face of Wrangler and GM Goodwrench while carving out a career that boasted seven Winston Cup Championships, tying him for first all-time with Richard Petty.
For all his contributions to the sport, Earnhardt was like what Michael Jordan was (and is) to not only the NBA, but entire sport of basketball.
Simply slap the Earnhardt name on literally anything and, just like that, there was instant value added. Just take Dale Earnhardt, Inc (DEI), which he and his wife founded in ’98, but folded by ’09 after his son’s exist from the racing team.
One thing’s for sure, NASCAR will always have a special place in its heart for racing’s mustachioed master.
Mark Martin – $70,000,000
Mark Martin is a very, very rich man, and it’s been a marathon of a ride to reach this point. For over 30 years, Martin was one of the toughest drivers in NASCAR, accumulating more than 600 Top 10 finishes in over 1,000 races.
Martin’s incredible track record plays a major part of his estimated net worth of $70 million, as his career earnings total over $100 million through his 30+ years of competition. Though that may have been divvied up with the rest of his team, purses for 89 career wins along with all those Top 10s really added up.
From Driver To Dealer
With such a long racing career, Martin has had more than his fair share of partnerships with sponsors from all walks. Most remember Martin while driving the No. 6 Ford with Roush Fenway Racing, which sported Stroh’s Light, Folger’s Coffee, Valvoline and, of course, Viagra.
Incredibly, Martin’s career was so long, those primary sponsors are only the start, having also worked with Eagle One, Maxlife, AAA, U.S. Army, Kellogg’s and others.
Since retiring from racing, Martin isn’t letting his mountain of cash get between him and his cars. After a brief spell as a driver development coach, Martin now works with a dirt racing team and owns a host of car dealerships throughout his home state of Arkansas.
Kevin Harvick – $75,000,000
When he’s on the racetrack, Kevin Harvick is one of the most ruthless competitors out there, even earning the nickname “Happy Harvick” for his propensity to let tempers flare.
That attitude has helped fuel Harvick to the front of the pack, as he’s been a constant presence in the Top 10 on his way to winning the Cup Series (2014) and the Xfinity Series twice (2001, 2006).
Crushing the competition for over 20 years has been a substantial portion of how Harvick’s built a net worth of $75 million, but that’s only the start. Sponsorships—GM Goodwrench, Pennzoil, Shell, Budweiser, Rheem and Jimmy John’s—have also helped line Harvick’s pockets.
Harvick may be a mean machine behind the wheel, but his business savvy away from the racetrack has been every bit as important in building his bank account.
The NASCAR star also founded KHI Management, which is a “full-service sports and celebrity marketing agency representing some of the most successful and high-profile professionals in the sports, broadcasting and music industries…”
KHI Management has clients from all over: NASCAR, UFC, PGA, motocross and the music industry. From big wins on the track to sponsors on the hood to a client list that flaunts the likes of Jake Owen, Miesha Tate and Donald Cerrone, Harvick is flat out crushing it wherever he goes.
Tony Stewart – $80,000,000
Tony Stewart has been making straight bank for so long through racing that surpassing his net worth of $80 million and eclipsing the nine-figure mark is inevitable.
Before stepping away out of the driver’s seat in 2016, Stewart managed one of the most impressive careers in NASCAR history.
Stewart’s impressive resume is highlighted by three Cup Series titles (2002, 2005, 2011). The first two times Stewart was named champion, he was driving the iconic No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing while partnered up with longtime sponsor Home Depot.
When Stewart moved on, it was only to bigger and better things.
Success As Driver And Owner
With JGR having switched to Toyota in 2008, Stewart’s love for Chevrolet led to his release, allowing him to sign with Haas CNC Racing.
Actually, he didn’t just sign with Haas, he split ownership, meaning when Stewart won his third Cup Series title in 2011, he was both driver AND owner of his No. 14 car.
Forget the sponsors of his No. 14, Stewart’s been involved in way more than a walking/driving advertisement.
Along with owning a number open-wheel motorsport teams and USAC titles, he bought the All Star Circuit of Champions in 2015 and even owns a few race tracks! If there’s money to be made in racing, Stewart’s all over it.
Jimmie Johnson – $150,000,000
First there it was Richard Petty, then Dale Earnhardt, then Jimmie Johnson became the third person ever to win seven Cup Series titles. Most impressive of all is that he managed to pull off the unbelievable feat in a short span of just 10 years!
Throughout his NASCAR career, Johnson has driven the No. 48 car for Hendrick Motorsports while maintaining Lowe’s as his primary sponsor since the beginning. Well, it at least had been until Lowe’s announced that, following the 2018 season, it would no longer sponsor any car.
All good things must come to an end and, judging by Johnson’s $150 MILLION in the bank, we think he’ll survive.
Forbes has twice listed NASCAR’s biggest current celeb as the No. 1 Most Influential Male Athlete of the Year (2011, 2012) for both his popularity and success on the track as well as work away from racing thanks to things like his Jimmie Johnson Foundation, which has been helping families and communities in need since 2007.
Johnson’s success has made him one of the most marketable names in NASCAR, resulting in numerous media appearances in film, television, video games, magazines, he’s even been in a music video! For all we know, Johnson went ahead and used all that cash to pay for a body double to compete while he enjoys life on a private island (or three).
Jeff Gordon – $230,000,000
There are very few NASCAR drivers whose popularity has grown to such prominence that they transcended the sport, but Jeff Gordon is undoubtably right up top there as one of them.
As if there could possibly any doubt to Gordon’s popularity, just check that net worth again. Yeah, good luck finding an unpopular athlete who still manages to get $230 million in the bank.
Gordon was a trail blazer for NASCAR, helping bring attention to the sport as a pop culture icon. With the number of television and film appearances he’s made over the years, you’d think he was an actor first, driver second.
Advertising played a huge role in helping Gordon achieve his incredible wealth, as “NASCAR’s most marketable driver” has had his face plastered on every form of ad space available.
While sponsors a major factor in Gordon’s riches, he was also an earner on the track, becoming the first NASCAR driver to earn over $100 million in career winnings, which he’d gone on to double.
Since stepping out of the driver’s seat, Gordon has enjoyed his time by the track as an announcer on Fox NASCAR. He’s an owner of Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 car and owned a couple of racing teams at various points. If we’re being real, Gordon’s name pretty much owns NASCAR.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – $310,000,000
Just when it seems like life can’t get any more rich, powerful and famous than Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. steps in to shake everything we know.
At a staggering net worth of $310 million, Earnhardt Jr. is worth nearly $100 mil more than Gordon. SHEESH.
Earnhardt Jr. was right there with Gordon throughout the ‘90s and ‘00s, helping build the NASCAR brand to the juggernaut it is today.
Without a single Cup Series title to his name, Earnhardt Jr. is living prove that winning isn’t everything… because doesn’t being the richest NASCAR driver in history mean he’s winning at life?
Carrying On The Legacy
From his longtime sponsorship deal with Budweiser to deals with the AMP Energy, National Guard and Nationwide Insurance, Earnhardt Jr. was a home run for them all.
The mega millionaire was NASCAR’s top earner for seven straight years. In 2017 alone he cashed in a cool $22 million.
Earnhardt Jr. concluded his time as a full-time driver after the 2017 season, closing that chapter of his inspirational journey carrying on his father’s legacy.
Between his media production company, race tracks, signature eyeglasses, restaurants and more, Earnhardt Jr.’s stamp on NASCAR is everlasting.