NASCAR: Who is the highest paid Cup Series driver?

Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Who was the highest paid driver in the NASCAR Cup Series for the 2022 season? The answer shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise to anybody.

One aspect of the NASCAR Cup Series that differs from other major professional sports is that of athlete salaries. For example, when an NFL or an NBA player signs a new deal, the financial terms of that new deal are publicized.

That isn’t always the case when it comes to NASCAR drivers. NASCAR driver salaries are driven by corporate sponsorship. As Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson put it, “every driver’s salary comes from whatever is on that race car on Sunday.”

Ironically, he was speaking in reference to the sport’s highest paid driver: Kyle Busch.

Busch, whose longtime partnership with M&M’s came to an end at the end of the 2022 season, has the highest salary among all Cup Series drivers, according to Salary Sport.

The 37-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native’s $16,900,000 salary is nearly $4 million higher than the next highest salary on the list.

Just three other drivers, all veterans of the sport, have eight-figure salaries, including two of Busch’s former teammates (Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.). Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick also falls into that category.

Among drivers not above the age of 30, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott lead the way with $8 million salaries.

It should come as no surprise that the former driver of the No. 18 Toyota is at the top of the overall list, given everything he has accomplished in his career.

Entering 2022, Busch was the only active driver with more than one championship to his name, having won titles in both 2015 and 2019, and he is tied for the lead among all active drivers with 60 victories, good for a ninth place tie on the all-time wins list.

His win in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway in April was his first win of the 2022 season, giving him 18 consecutive winning seasons to tie Richard Petty’s all-time record.

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With M&M’s leaving the No. 18 Toyota after the 2022 season a once promising sponsorship development falling through, Busch brought to an end his 15-year relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota and signed with Richard Childress Racing to drive the No. 8 Chevrolet in 2023. Will he still maintain his spot as the sport’s highest paid driver?