How Much Do NASCAR Drivers Make Per Race?

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NASCAR racing is a largely popular sport across America, drawing millions of viewers during its weekly races. The NASCAR season is divided into two segments, with currently 36 races in the season. Although there are multiple income streams open to NASCAR teams and drivers, they do still earn per race, be it in prize money or bonuses. So how much is that prize money per race.

After each NASCAR race, drivers split a purse. Usually, the winner takes most of the earnings, which on average can be $47,500, and the loser takes home around $8,500. Huge races like the Daytona 500 may have prize pots of over 15 million dollars and winners may take 1.5 to 2 million dollars of that.

The purse earnings depend on merchandise sales, sponsorship deals, broadcasting rights, and more. Drivers can also gain incentives for winning certain races and performing well throughout the season.

how much do nascar drivers make per race
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Average NASCAR Driver Earnings in A Season

NASCAR drivers don’t have deals similar to football players or basketball players; all of their earnings are performance-based. So ideally, the more races they win, the more they make and the more endorsement deals that come pouring in. 

And if a driver has a good combination of skill and sponsorship, they can make a good salary. Drivers can keep 40 to 45 percent of their purses while the rest is distributed. The highest paid driver made $16.9 million in the 2022 season, and the lowest paid driver made $200,000.

Top five Highest-Paid NASCAR drivers in 2022:

  • Kyle Busch: $16,900,000
  • Denny Hamlin: $13,100,000
  • Kevin Harvick: $10,900,000
  •  Martin Truex Jr: $10,400,000
  • Brad Keselowski: $9,400,000

A new up and coming NASCAR driver can earn anywhere between $100,000 and $300,000 as a base salary and another $200,000 in prize money. NASCAR drivers are also paid a salary from their that owns the racecar. But drivers must perform extremely well and draw a lot of fan interest. The maximum a driver can earn for a race is $130,000 if they finish on top.

In 2021, Kyle Larson took home the highest earnings of the NASCAR season and was the winner of consecutive races in the playoffs, ultimately leading to him winning the Cup Series Championship.

During the 2019 Cup Series, Kyle Busch ended up being the top earner, taking home $17.8 million from his salary, endorsements, and licensing deals. The Daytona 500 is the sport’s most lucrative race and usually draws a large purse. In 2022, the total purse was rumored to be around $24.6 million with possibly 1.5 to 2 million for winning the Daytona 500.

We have an infographic on the Prize money in NASCAR and NASCAR drivers salaries below that you can share ( throw us a link if you do) or use.

NASCAR prize money infographic (1)

Car Sponsorships Can affect Salary

NASCAR has a strong foundation of partners willing to sponsor drivers, providing financial support to drivers, NASCAR events, and end-of-the-year awards.

In 2020, NASCAR changed to a tiered sponsorship, and four premier partners were named: Busch, Coca-Cola, Geico, and Xfinity.

Each NASCAR team has its own set of sponsors and gets an imprint on a designated car. 

Popular NASCAR sponsors

  • Lowe’s
  • Dupont
  • Miller Lite
  • Ford
  • Budweiser 
  • STP
  • Goodwrench

A few different factors go into account when it comes to how much a driver is paid.

The main factors are driver merit and skill, race record, longevity in the sport, and marketability. The higher a driver finishes in rankings, the more you can prove to sponsors and fans how good you are.

NASCAR Earnings vs. F1 Drivers Earnings 

Formula 1 is another popular racing sport that attracts millions of viewers, and drivers make great money. However, F1 drivers can generally make more than NASCAR drivers.

In the past, three F1 drivers have made appearances on Forbes’ 60 highest-paid athletes, and no NASCAR driver has ever made a list.

The highest salary in 2022 for an F1 driver was $40 million, as opposed to $16.9 million being the highest salary for a NASCAR driver. F1 drivers per race earnings can differ depending on the driver and the contract. Every driver has a contract set with the team. For instance, Lewis Hamilton, the top earner in 2022, made $2.9 million per race.

F1 drivers and NASCAR drivers earn their cash in somewhat similar ways. F1 drivers receive smaller race prizes than NASCAR drivers, but where they make most of their money is through bonuses. Drivers can get bonuses for where they finish in races, scoring a certain number of points, or finishing above a certain position. 

NASCAR Top 2022 EarnersF1 Top 2022 Earners
Kyle Busch $16.9 millionLewis Hamilton $40 million
Denny Hamlin $13.1 millionMax Verstappen $25 million 
Kevin Harvick $10.9 millionFernando Alonso $20 million
Martin Truex Jr. $10.4 millionLando Norris $20 million
Brad Keselowski $9.4 millionSebastian Vettel $15 million

In 2021, F1 introduced a cap on overall costs, so there would be a level playing field among teams finances. Now there is a cap of $145 million each team can spend throughout the season, which applies to performance-based costs but doesn’t include the costs of mechanic salaries, travel costs, or bonuses. 

F1 drivers can earn bonuses just for winning a Grand Prix, winning a league championship, having the fastest lap, and winning pole position

NASCAR, however, gives more drivers an opportunity to make money. In F1, there are only 20 seats, meaning only 20 drivers, but with NASCAR, there are 17-full time teams, and each can employ up to four drivers. Teams rarely have up to four drivers, but it does mean NASCAR could employ 68 drivers at a time, and a NASCAR race has 40 drivers at a time.

There is also an F2 and F3 racing division for any driver who isn’t ready to be an F1 driver. However, their earnings are significantly less than F1 drivers.

Both Fields Make Decent Money

Motorsports’ finances can be complicated and sometimes confidential, but at the end of the day, drivers of both sports can walk away making solid earnings. If you’re marketable and good at the sport, a NASCAR driver can make a decent earning.

F1 drivers already earn a nice salary and have ample opportunities to make more money through bonuses and race to a position. But ultimately, F1 drivers bring in way more cash in their league.



Al lifelong Motor Racing Fan, with a particular love of NASCAR and IndyCar racing. Been in and out of cars of varying speeds since i was a child and sharing what i have learnt here.

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