How Much is the Prize Money In NASCAR?

How Much is the Prize Money In NASCAR

NASCAR actually stopped regularly breaking down prize money in 2016 so it has become increasingly difficult to answer how much each race driver will earn in a given race. However from previous seasons and the occasional data that comes through we can give some decent estimates.

Prize money in NASCAR varies on the race and series. Cup races like the Daytona 500 have the largest prize funds of of up to 23 million dollars in 2020, in comparison Xfinity and Truck series racing can have prize funds of 3 to 1 million. Prize money comes from sponsorships, TV rights, ticket sales and merchandising.

How this prize money is broken down can be convoluted and difficult to explain, however for the majority of the time the higher you place the greater the prize is. We take a look at this in more detail below.

  • We will go into where the NASCAR prize money comes from
  • How it NASCAR Prize money allocated
  • the differences between Prize money in the different NASCAR Series
  • The differences between Prize money in the Different NASCAR races

Where Does NASCAR Prize Money Come From?

NASCAR is both a sport and business. It has to administer all aspects of NASCAR and to do this requires love and money, but mostly money. To be able to offer the million of dollars in prizes there is a fairly straightforward equation. we highlight this is the image below. ( allowed us to get creative as well)

Nascar prize money

The big prizes will attract the best cars, teams and drivers, which then attract the millions of fans, which then attract the millions of dollars in advertising and broadcast contracts which enables NASCAR to offer such high prizes, which attracts the best teams…. you get the idea.

(By the way, Nascar earns its income primarily from selling television broadcast rights, as well as from ticket sales, merchandising, and so on).

So, to recap: Nascar earns from TV deals, ticket sales, merchandise, etc.; race teams reap most of the funds from sponsorships as well as prize money paid out by Nascar; and drivers are paid salaries as well as sponsorship bonuses, and earn from merchandising and endorsements that come independently of team sponsors. This amount to alot of money each year. NASCAR is second only to football in popularity.

How Much Do the Drivers Earn In NASCAR?

This is a much bigger question requiring a longer answer. Which if we have written it by the time you read this will appear here. NASCAR drivers earning may have very little to do with the prize money in NASCAR, it is more likely to come from bonus, contract and sponsorship deals.

However, First off let’s get an overview of how this all works, keeping in mind that the following is just a brief summary of Nascar’s money flow system.

The first thing to know is that Nascar pays out prize money for each race. Think of this as the “base” pay, if you will, for drivers/teams.

There is a specific amount allocated to each finishing position; the higher the finishing position, the higher the amount of prize money, with the race winner receiving the most. Pretty straightforward so far, right?

But while prize money is technically credited to the driver (these amounts are, in fact, what goes into a driver’s stats), the money doesn’t necessarily go to the driver, it belongs to the team officially. Drivers are paid a salary – the specifics of which drivers are notoriously tight-lipped about – which uniquely varies depending on the contract between driver and team owner.

This is the drivers’ base income. However, most drivers have arrangements with both primary and secondary sponsors in which the driver receives a “bonus” regardless of finishing position, or sometimes bonuses may come with performance stipulations – this is also known as contingency money.

This is where the waters become muddied when it comes to how much drivers make, and the reason why in some instances the 30th place driver might earn more than say, the driver finishing 25th.

And then to further complicate the payout system are the various so-called prize plans implemented by Nascar for different teams based on teams’ respective performance for the current year as well as the previous year. And of course, drivers also earn from merchandising deals and also from endorsements, appearances and such.

Nascar Prize money

How Does Prize Money Compare Among the Different Nascar Divisions?

The Cup Series is stock car racing’s crowning glory, so it is no surprise that there is a dramatic difference in how much money the lower-tier prize pays out.

While exact numbers are elusive as stated before, in late 2021 Nascar did – in a rather out-of-character move – make public the prize payout figures for one particular race weekend in which the Cup series purse at the Kansas Speedway race was $7,972,577

while the Xfinity Series race at the same track saw a purse of $1,638,185.

Comparatively, the purse for that weekend’s Camping World Truck Series race at the Martinsville Speedway was $674,952.

Cup Series (Kansas)Xfinity (Kansas)Truck Series (at Martinsville)
7,972,577 Dollars1,638,185 dollars674,952 dollars

So as you can see, there is a marked disparity among the different series, and it’s no wonder why every stock car drivers’ ultimate ambition is to reach the Cup Series someday (though to be sure Xfinity drivers don’t do too badly for themselves either).

this disparity is nothing unusual in sport. In Formula 1 when compared to Formula 2 and 3 similar differences can be observed. In essence it will boil down to eyeballs. The more people watching the more lucrative the tv rights, sponsorship and advertising rights will be.

What is the Biggest Prize in NASCAR?

Not all Nascar events are created the same, at least in terms of prize money awarded. It will likely come to the surprise of absolutely no one to learn that the Daytona 500 is by far the most lucrative race on the schedule.

In 2020, the race paid out an astonishing $23.6 million USD among the forty driver/teams that participated. Though it is not known how exactly that whopping figure was paid out exactly, it is believed that winner Denny Hamlin and his no.11 FedEx-sponsored Joe Gibbs Racing team likely pocketed around $2 million of those dollars.

While payout figures are hard to come by these days now that Nascar is keeping them secret, we know that in 2018 under the new charter system The Great American Race paid out a collective purse of $15,466,000; the closest to reach that mark in the same year was Indianapolis at about $5,456,000.

The lowest paying race of that season was at the Watkins Glen road course, whose purse was a “paltry” $1,160,000.

Over $86 million in prize money was awarded throughout that season, and it is interesting to note that while eventual champion Joey Logano netted $11 million, seven-time champ Jimmie Johnson earned over $17 million despite finishing a lackluster 14th in the final points tally.

Further Questions

But there is one burning question in particular that seems to keep fans of stock car racing perpetually awake at night, maybe because the answer seems to be elusive. That is, “How much money do Nascar drivers make?” We will give the answer to that on the site.

There are other questions we also the answers to, which hopefully will let yo sleep at night (not because of the writing but because we provided the answer!!)

Questions like:

Just how powerful is a NASCAR Engine?Opens in a new tab.

Do Nascar drivers drive the number 13?Opens in a new tab.

Will there be an electric NASCAR?Opens in a new tab.

What do Nascar drivers do when they have to go to the bathroomOpens in a new tab.


So there is a quick little rundown of how the millions and millions of dollars flowing into Nascar gets moved around. What charmed lives these stock car drivers live! (Although Formula One drivers are certainly not to be outdone).

It is also clear to see why drivers aim for the Cup Series, the difference in Prize money is quite staggering!

All this is certainly a far cry from the $2000 Jim Roper earned for winning the first-ever race in 1949 at the iconic Charlotte Speedway in what would ultimately become the Nascar Cup Series.


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