Which Sprint Cup Series drivers have the most in career earnings?

Jeff Gordon wins the Winston Million for wins at Daytona, Charlotte, and Darlington in the NASCAR Cup Series during the 1997 season. 

Photo by ISC Archives via Getty/Getty Images

They say if you want to make a small fortune in racing, you better start with a large one. NASCAR is a big-money sport, but who has made the most earnings throughout their Sprint Cup career?

Taking a look at Racing-Reference.info, here is a list of 30 Sprint Cup Series drivers and their estimated career earnings. This figure does not include contracts, endorsements or any other factor, simply the money earned throughout their on-track performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

1.     Jeff Gordon — From ‘Wonder Boy’ to the aged veteran, Jeff Gordon changed the game in many ways when it comes to NASCAR. Making his first career start in the same race in which Richard Petty made his final start, it was truly a passing of the torch. Being young, marketable, and a heck of a race car driver, Gordon has earned $144.6 million in career earnings.

2.     Jimmie Johnson — Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate and protégé followed in his footsteps and has won six Sprint Cup Series championships along the way. A dominant force in NASCAR for many years, Johnson has earned over $142 million.

3.     Tony Stewart — A three-time Sprint Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart has been one of the toughest drivers to beat in NASCAR since his rookie season of 1999. Throughout his career, ‘Smoke’ has been to Victory Lane at least once every season except for 2014. That effort has netted him $117 million in career earnings.

4.     Matt Kenseth — The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has one Sprint Cup Series championships, two Daytona 500 victories and earned $105.9 million.

5.     Kevin Harvick – The defending Sprint Cup champion got his start in the series in dramatic fashion when he took over at Richard Childress Racing after the tragic death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 2001. Since then, Harvick has gone on to earn $96 million.

6.     Mark Martin — One of NASCAR’s most liked and most respected drivers, Mark Martin never earned a Sprint Cup Series title or a Daytona 500 victory, but he did earn $92 million throughout his career.

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7.     Jeff Burton — The Virginia native may have hung out his helmet and will step into the broadcast booth starting in 2015, but the former Roush Fenway Racing and Richard Childress Racing driver earned $88 million throughout his 22-year career.

8.     Dale Earnhardt Jr. — While Earnhardt Jr. certainly has more earnings from endorsements, contracts and outside ventures, the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has earned $87.8 million throughout his Sprint Cup career.

9.     Kurt Busch — One Sprint Cup Series championship and 25 Sprint Cup Series victories have led the elder Busch brother to earn $86.3 million throughout his tumultuous career.

10. Bobby Labonte — The 2000 Sprint Cup Series champion ran his last full season in 2012, but earned $80.5 million throughout his 23-year career.

11. Ryan Newman — The former Team Penske and current Richard Childress Racing driver won the 50th running of the Daytona 500, as well as $79 million in career earnings.

12. Carl Edwards – One of the most sponsor savvy drivers in NASCAR, Edwards is headed to Joe Gibbs Racing with a career earnings of $73.6 million.

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13. Kyle Busch — ‘Rowdy’ Busch has seen success across the board in each of NASCAR’s top three divisions, but his Sprint Cup Series earnings come in at $69 million.

14. Greg Biffle ­– The former Camping World and Xfinity Series champion has raced at Roush Fenway Racing during his entire NASCAR career, earning $69 million in his Sprint Cup Series career alone.

15. Kasey Kahne – The driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has driven for the likes of Ray Evernham, Richard Petty, and Rick Hendrick, and has $66 million in Sprint Cup Series career earnings.

16. Denny Hamlin — The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been successful in each of his nine full seasons in the Sprint Cup Series, earning victories each year and taking home $60.7 million in earnings.

17. Dale Jarrett — The former Sprint Cup champion and member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame is a three-time Daytona 500 winner and two-time Brickyard 400 winner, earning him $59.9 million.

18. Rusty Wallace — The 1989 champion scored 55 career Sprint Cup Series wins over 26 years, leading to $49.7 million in career earnings.

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19. Bill Elliott — ‘Million Dollar Bill’ was the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to win the Winston Million prize in 1985. The NASCAR Hall of Fame member used that big payday to earn a total of $46 million throughout his Sprint Cup career.

20. Terry Labonte — A two-time champion, ‘Texas’ Terry Labonte earned a total of $45.6 million during his Sprint Cup career.

21. Ricky Rudd — Throughout his 32-year Sprint Cup career, Ricky Rudd earned 23 victories, 194 top fives, 374 top 10s, and a total of $44.5 million in career earnings.

22. Sterling Marlin — The two-time Daytona 500 champion ran his last full season in 2006, but earned $43.5 million throughout his 33-year Sprint Cup career.

23. Dale Earnhardt — The ‘Intimidator’ was one of the most successful race car drivers in NASCAR, both on the track and when it came to marketing. However, Earnhardt ranks No. 23 on the list in terms of Sprint Cup Series career earnings with $42 million.

24. Brad Keselowski — The young Team Penske driver is already a Sprint Cup Series champion, and has earned $39.4 million throughout his seven-year career.

25. Ken Schrader — A perennial dirt track racer, Schrader’s Sprint Cup Series career spanned 29 years, earning him four victories and a total of $38 million in earnings.

26. Joey Logano — The young 24-year-old driver has already made waves in the Sprint Cup Series, earning eight victories, 43 top fives, 82 top 10s, and $33.9 million in career earnings.

27. Darrell Waltrip — The NASCAR Hall of Fame member and FOX Sports analyst is a three-time Sprint Cup Series champion with 84 victories and $19.9 million in earnings.

28. Cale Yarborough — The first driver to win three championships in a row, Yarborough is a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and earned a total of $15.6 million during his career.

29. Richard Petty – ‘The King’ of NASCAR is the standard bearer for much of the sport, but earned just $8.5 million throughout his Sprint Cup career.

30. David Pearson — The ‘Silver Fox’ may have won three titles and hold the No. 2 spot on the all-time win list, but Pearson ranks 30th on the list with $2.8 million in career earnings.

By looking at the list, it is clear the drivers racing in NASCAR today are making more money than those that paved the way before them. Fortune 500 companies are now an integral part of the sport, driving purses and earnings much higher.

For example, consider the fact Red Byron, the first champion of what is now the Sprint Cup Series, earned a total of $10,025 in his career. Rex White, the oldest living Sprint Cup champion and 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, earned $223,511 in his career.

It is certainly a good day to be a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, especially if you can get to Victory Lane.