Although the sport might not be entertaining to everyone, it definitely takes a special breed of individual be a NASCAR driver. To race at ridiculously high speeds, knowing there’s a possibility of being involved in a life-threatening wreck each and every time you step onto the track, takes serious guts. We certainly don’t have the stomach for it.
Of course, with certain risk comes the potential for epic reward. And NASCAR is not the exception. According to Forbes, thanks to salaries, endorsements, and a piece of purses and licensing, the 12 highest-paid drivers in NASCAR earned a combined $168 million during the 2016 season. Do we have your attention now? Good.
In the end, however, some individuals managed to come away with more coin than the rest. With that, here’s a look at the 10 drivers who earned the most money in 2016.
10. Joey Logano
2016 Total earnings: $11.0 million
Joey Logano was an absolute beast on the track in 2016. The 26-year-old won four races, pulled in $9.7 million in salary and winnings, and finished in second place in the Cup standings. Thanks to an additional $1.3 million in endorsements, courtesy of deals with companies like GoPro, Seiko, Wheels Up, and Coca-Cola, Logano raked in $11.0 million in total earnings during the 2016 season.
9. Matt Kenseth
2016 Total earnings: $11.5 million
Matt Kenseth may be in his 40s, but he still knows how to get the job done. He proved this emphatically in 2016, taking home $1.3 million in endorsements along with $10.2 million in salary and winnings. With $11.5 million in total earnings, Kenseth comfortably secured ninth place on this fairly prestigious list of drivers.
8. Tony Stewart
2016 Total earnings: $12.0 million
Tony Stewart definitely made the most of his final season on the track. In 2016, the three-time Cup champion raced to $9.7 million in salary and winnings, earned $2.3 million in endorsement money, and breezed to a respectable $12.0 million in total earnings. That’s a pretty solid way to hang up your helmet.
7. Danica Patrick
2016 Total earnings: $12.2 million
Danica Patrick gets the job done on and off the track. While the superstar took home $7.2 million in salary and winnings in 2016, it’s the $5 million she earned in endorsement money that confirms she’s one of the most important players in the sport. As long as Patrick continues to burn rubber on the track, the cash will continue to roll in.
6. Carl Edwards
2016 Total earnings: $12.3 million
Like Stewart, Carl Edwards definitely made the most of his final season on the track. Aside from earning $1.3 million in endorsements, Edwards collected $11 million in salary and winnings, giving him $12.3 million in total earnings during the 2016 season. According to Forbes, Edwards turns in his keys having secured more than $130 million throughout his 13-year racing career.
5. Kevin Harvick
2016 Total earnings: $13.9 million
Kevin Harvick’s productive 2016 season made him one of the five highest-paid drivers in the sport. He took home $3 million in endorsements and collected $10.9 million in salary and winnings, giving him $13.9 million in total earnings for the year. Thanks to his other gig as a race analyst for Fox, Harvick’s bank account should continue to experience a steady flow of cash for the foreseeable future.
4. Kyle Busch
2016 Total earnings: $15.0 million
Kyle Busch is easily one of the biggest names in the sport. In 2016, the man who sold the fourth most merchandise in racing raked in $1.5 million in endorsement money and another $13.5 million in salary and winnings. At just 31 years old, don’t be surprised to see Busch’s continual presence on this particular list.
3. Denny Hamlin
2016 Total earnings: $15.2 million
Time and time again, Denny Hamlin has proven himself a force to be reckoned with. Last season, aside from finishing first in the closest Daytona 500 ever, Hamlin was able to pull in $13.4 million in winnings and salary. Thanks to sponsorship deals with everyone from Coca-Cola to Nike’s Jordan Brand, Hamlin also secured $1.8 million in endorsement money, giving him $15.2 million in total earnings for the year.
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2016 Total earnings: $21.1 million
After eight consecutive years as NASCAR’s highest-paid driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally dropped a peg to No. 2. Of course, that doesn’t mean the popular driver wasn’t still rolling in cash.
Earnhardt sold more merchandise than any other driver, took home $8 million in endorsements, and secured $13.1 million in salary and winnings. Had he not been forced to miss the final 18 races of the season — because of concussion symptoms — we have a feeling Earnhardt would’ve netted more than $21.1 million in total earnings in 2016.
1. Jimmie Johnson
2016 Total earnings: $21.8 million
Welcome to the top of the leaderboard, Jimmie Johnson.
In 2016, the superstar driver took home his seventh NASCAR title, earned a whopping $16.8 million in winnings, and, thanks to deals with brands like Chevrolet, Seiko, and Gatorade, netted $5 million in endorsement and licensing money. With $21.8 million in total earnings, Johnson is officially the one to beat.