Top 10 Highest-Paid Active NASCAR Cup Series Drivers
NASCAR is one of the highest paying sports in the world.
Cup Series’ stars are often in the top 5 among the richest racing drivers.
The series is known for its generous prize money, all the way to 40th place.
Sponsorship deals also pay fairly well, with some big companies often displaying their logos on racing cars.
See which active drivers make the cut for the top 10.
10. Brad Keselowski (US$ 25 Million)
It took Brad Keselowski some time to transition from a promising youngster to a top driver.
When it did happen, it was an overnight transformation.
Keselowski moved from Hendrick Motorsports to Team Penske in 2010.
After the usual growing pains during the first year, he got his breakout season in 2011.
Switching over to the team’s legendary #2 car, Keselowski won three races and finished fifth in points.
In 2012, Keselowski beat the then five-time champion Jimmie Johnson for his first career title.
The Team Penske driver has 30 career wins and the 2012 championship.
Miller Lite worked as Keselowski’s primary sponsor for seven seasons before cutting back investments in 2018.
The #2 car now has Discount Tires sharing the bill.
With his continued success, Brad Keselowski will likely find himself climbing some spots in the future.
9. Paul Menard (US$ 30 Million)
Paul Menard isn’t the most successful driver of the list.
The Wood Brothers driver has some rather modest numbers through his career.
In 449 starts, Menard has one win in the Cup Series, which came at Indianapolis in 2012.
His stats aren’t much better in the Xfinity Series, with three wins in 218 races.
Menard’s most recent win came in the Xfinity Series at Road America back in 2015.
The NASCAR veteran features in this list thanks to his family ties.
Menard is the son of Menard’s founder and president John Menard Jr.
His father is in the top 150 of the richest people in the world.
With a share of that, Paul Menard slides into the list even without much success on the track.
8. Martin Truex Jr. (US$ 38 Million)
Martin Truex Jr. came into the Cup Series with high expectations in 2006.
A two-time champion in two full Busch Series seasons, he was considered one of NASCAR’s rising stars.
A win in only his second full season, which led to the 11th place in points, solidified that position.
But Dale Earnhardt Inc. soon faced a decline in form, and so did Truex.
Truex got things back on track with a surprising move to Furniture Row Racing.
The small team based in Colorado soon turned into a powerhouse.
A move under the Joe Gibbs umbrella in 2016 moved the organization into championship contention.
Truex scored his first Cup Series championship the following year.
His results in recent years include three Final Four appearances, with one title and one runner-up finish.
Truex has 22 wins, and his championship-winning year saw seven trips to victory lane.
His primary sponsor is Bass Pro Shops, a partnership that dates back to his DEI days.
As his great run continues, expect him to climb this list.
7. Clint Bowyer (US$ 40 Million)
Clint Bowyer has remained reasonably competitive for most of his career.
He finished a surprising third in points in only his second Cup Series season.
Bowyer only had one winless season between 2007 and 2012.
He then went through a drought that lasted from 2012 until last year.
Moving to powerhouse Stewart-Haas Racing in 2017, replacing the retired Tony Stewart, Bowyer scored two wins in 2018.
His best result in the points standings was a runner-up finish in 2012.
Clint Bowyer has a deal with Mobil 1 and had Jack Daniels, Cheerios, and 5-Hour Energy stamping his car in the past.
6. Denny Hamlin (US$ 45 Million)
A veteran about to reach 500 races, Denny Hamlin is one of the most successful drivers in the series.
He moved up to the Cup Series in 2006 following two years in the Busch Series.
With two wins and an impressive third in points in his first year, Hamlin soon established himself as a contender.
He has only missed out on the top 10 in the final points standings twice in 12 full seasons.
Hamlin has never won the Cup Series championship, with the best finish of second in 2010.
In 484 Cup Series races, he has 33 wins and 30 poles, with 17 wins and 21 poles in 160 Xfinity Series starts.
Denny Hamlin has driven the #11 Fed-Ex sponsored car since 2006, a solid sponsorship deal.
He is also featured in advertisements for Toyota and is a two-time Daytona 500 winner.
5. Ryan Newman (US$ 50 Million)
Ryan Newman‘s best years may be behind him now.
But the Cup Series veteran used to be one of the most well-known names in the championship.
Newman presented his credentials with a Coca-Cola 600 pole in only his third start.
Moving to a full-season ride with Team Penske in 2002, he finished sixth in points with one win.
With strong performances in qualifying, Newman earned the nickname “Rocket Man”.
He leads all active drivers with 50 career pole-positions.
Newman’s greatest career achievement was his Daytona 500 win in 2008.
His previous sponsors include Mobil 1, Alltel, the U.S. Army, Quicken Loans, Haas Automotive, and Caterpillar.
4. Kurt Busch (US$ 50 Million)
The elder Busch brother is a highly accomplished driver.
Kurt Busch joined the Cup Series in 2001 with the legendary Roush Racing team.
His breakout season came in the following year, scoring four wins and finishing third in points.
Busch won the title in 2004, narrowly edging out Jimmie Johnson.
A DIU charge in 2005 brought his time with Roush to an early end.
He joined Team Penske in 2006, replacing Rusty Wallace in the #2 car.
Off-track issues once again brought his contract to an early end, and Busch left Penske at the end of 2011.
After two years driving for Phoenix Racing and Furniture Row, he moved to Stewart-Haas for 2014.
Back with a top team, Busch returned to victory lane and has won races in every season since then.
Despite his well-known off-track issues, Kurt Busch has landed good sponsorship deals.
Now with Monster Energy, he also had Miller Lite and Haas Automotive on his car in the past.
The 2004 champion has 30 career wins and 27 poles.
3. Kyle Busch (US$ 55 Million)
Kyle Busch holds an impressive third place despite being the youngest driver of this list.
He joined the Cup Series in 2004 with Hendrick Motorsports.
Busch’s breakout came in 2008 after a successful move to Joe Gibbs Racing.
He established himself as one of the top drivers but struggled to turn that into championship success.
That finally came to an end in 2015, despite missing 11 races due to a broken leg.
Busch is also known for his success in both the Xfinity and Truck Series.
He won the Nationwide Series title in 2009 and essentially ran the full season in both series for a long time.
This definitely helped him to become the third highest paid driver in the Cup Series.
During his stint with Hendrick, the younger Busch had Kellog’s as his primary sponsor.
M&M’s has been on his car since the move to Joe Gibbs Racing, a partnership that has lasted 11 years.
Busch also owns a team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, and runs a highly successful operation in the Trucks.
2. Kevin Harvick (US$ 70 Million)
Kevin Harvick has been around the Cup Series since 2001.
Drafted in as Dale Earnhardt’s replacement, he quickly became one of the top drivers in the series.
Harvick has been a consistent championship contender since 2010.
He only has gone winless three times in 20 seasons.
After switching to Stewart-Haas, Harvick won his first championship in 2014.
His 45 wins are good enough for third among active drivers.
From 2002 to 2011, Harvick owned his own team, Kevin Harvick Incorporated.
It led to success in the Xfinity and Truck Series, scoring 47 and 14 wins respectively.
1. Jimmie Johnson (US$ 120 Million)
Unsurprisingly, topping the list is the seven-time champion, Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson has been around the Cup Series since 2002, and his numbers are simply impressive.
He currently leads all drivers with 83 wins and is third with 36 pole-positions.
His US$ 120 million net worth puts him third in the all-time list, behind former teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon.
His first winless season came in 2018, his 16th year as a full-time driver.
With seven championship trophies, he is tied with Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Petty.
Johnson had Lowe’s as his primary sponsor from his Cup Series debut until 2018.
Pixar Studios and his own Jimmie Johnson Foundation have also stamped the #48 paint scheme.
In 2013, Johnson released his own video game, Anything With An Engine.
Lowe’s ended its sponsorship deal at the end of 2018, with Ally Financial stepping in.
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