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Earnhardt and Hendrick top NASCAR rich list

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Thursday 1st April, 2010 - 12:20pm

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Dale Earnhardt Jr remains the highest earning driver in NASCAR while his boss Rick Henrick boasts the highest valued team in the sport

Dale Earnhardt Jr remains the highest earning driver in NASCAR while his boss Rick Hendrick boasts the highest valued team in the sport

The results of Forbes magazine’s annual list of the highest earning NASCAR drivers and top-valued teams for 2009 has turned up some predictable results along with some intriguing numbers.

Dale Earnhardt Jr topped the list of driver earnings with US$30million in estimated earnings in 2009. While Earnhardt Jr remains the most popular driver in NASCAR, he only managed 25th in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series standings.

All four of Hendrick Motorsports’ driver made the Top 10 list, with Jeff Gordon in second place, four-time reigning champion Jimmie Johnson in third place and veteran Mark Martin in 10th spot.

While Australian Marcos Ambrose did not make the Top 10, Australia’s BRW magazine quoted Ambrose’s earnings for 2009 at A$5.44million in its annual Top 50 Sports Earners list earlier this year with seventh spot on that listing.

In terms of team values Hendrick Motorsports held its value despite the dire state of the economy in the United States, valued at an estimated US$350million. Hendrick earned a Sprint Cup trifecta in 2009 and boasts sponsorships from companies such as Lowe’s, Dupont, GoDaddy.com, General Motors, Pepsico as well as the National Guard.

The two biggest rivals to Rick Hendrick’s operation, Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Childress Racing, both dropped value, in part due to both losing one Sprint Cup team each at the end of last season, by NASCAR ruling in Roush’s case as that team was forced to downsize to four entries and through lack of sponsorship over at RCR.

"I got dinner last time!" Hendrick Motorsports drivers (L-R) Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson earned around US$80million collectively in 2009 according to Forbes magazine

Hendrick Motorsports drivers (L-R) Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson earned around US$80million collectively in 2009 according to Forbes magazine

The big mover was Stewart-Haas Racing, which under Tony Stewart’s direction has come from a back-marker to championship contender with front running drivers (Stewart and Ryan Newman), big money sponsors (Old Spice, Office Depot, Burger King and US Army) and consistent front-running results.

The Forbes article noted that the business of NASCAR is riding a rough patch at present but is still holding strong as the second-biggest sport in the US behind the NFL.

“Attendance sank 17% through last year from a crest in 2005 (when the race-day average was 130,000),” said the Forbes magazine report.

“Though NASCAR is still America’s second-most-watched sport on television (next to football), the number of households tuning in fell to 4.6 million per race in 2009 versus 5.9 million in 2005.”

To read the full Forbes coverage of the economic state of NASCAR just CLICK HERE

Forbes Magazine’s Top NASCAR Earners for 2009

Rank Driver Team Est. Earnings Per Year
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr #88 Hendrick Motorsports US$30million
2. Jeff Gordon #24 Hendrick Motorsports US$27million
3. Jimmie Johnson #48 Hendrick Motorsports US$23million
4. Tony Stewart #14 Stewart-Haas Racing US$19million
5. Carl Edwards #99 Roush Fenway Racing US$14million
6. Kevin Harvick #29 Richard Childress Racing US$13million
7. Kyle Busch #18 Joe Gibbs Racing US$12million
7. Kasey Kahne #9 Richard Petty Motorsports US$12million
9. Matt Kenseth #17 Roush Fenway Racing US$11million
9. Mark Martin #5 Hendrick Motorsports US$11million

Forbes Magazine’s Most Valuable Teams in 2009

Rank Team Est. Current Value Est. Operating Income
1. Hendrick Motorsports US$350million (steady) US$19.8million
2. Roush Fenway Racing US$238million (down 12%) US$7.2million
3. Richard Childress Racing US$153million (down 8%) US$8.3million
4. Joe Gibbs Racing US$144million (steady) US$8million
5. Richard Petty Motorsports US$124million (down 6%) US$0.4million
6. Penske Racing US$110million (down 1%) US$10.5million
7. Stewart-Haas Racing US$98million (up 23%) US$8million
8. Michael Waltrip Racing US$88million (down 12%) US$6million
9. Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing US$71million (up 1%) US$5.1million
10. Red Bull Racing US$59million (up 7%) US–$0.9million

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