Forbes Magazine recently announced NASCAR’s most valuable teams. To no one’s surprise, Hendrick Motorsports tops the list with a value of $357 million. That’s up two percent, two percent I believe adds to just over seven million bucks. Hendrick banked $125 million in sponsor dollars last season.
I was amazed to read Hendrick is worth twice as much as second-ranked Joe Gibbs Racing. Hendrick is the only guy still running four cars. I say four, but he has his hands in the three teams out of the Stewart-Hass shops.
Gibbs, worth $168 million, passed Roush Fenway Racing with a boost when they named Matt Kenseth as Joey Logano’s replacement. The value of Roush dropped 10 percent to $166 million. They have struggled with sponsorship in recent years.
Richard Childress Racing ranks No. 4 with a value of $139 million, down six percent. Childress loses longtime driver Kevin Harvick, who signed a deal to race for Stewart-Haas Racing starting in 2014. As of now, no one is saying if Budweiser follows Harvick out the door.
Stewart-Haas is up 14 percent to $123 million and ranks fifth. Penske Racing (sixth) is up eight percent to $105 million. Michael Waltrip Racing (seventh) is at an even $100,000,000 (+11 percent), Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is eighth, down five percent to $72 million and Richard Petty Motorsports lost 10 percent and sits at $50,000,000.
Top Dollar Earning Drivers
Forbes reports Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the highest-paid Cup driver for the fifth straight year with total earnings of $25.9 million in 2012. They estimate Earnhardt earned $12.9 million in combined salary and his share of prize money, which is split with Hendrick Motorsports. He banked $13 million last year in licensing income, which is down like all drivers (some as much as 80 percent) from last year. Jimmie Johnson made $23 million. Tony Stewart is third at $18.7 million, then it’s Jeff Gordon (4th) $18.1 million, Carl Edwards (5th) $13.7 million, Kevin Harvick (6th) $13 million, Danica Patrick (7th) $12.9 million, Kyle Busch (8th) $12.5 million, Kasey Kahne (9th) $12 million and your 2012 champion Brad Keselowski rounds out the top 10 with $11.4 million.
Christopher Olmstead from www.bleacherreport.com writes, “It’s absolutely crazy to think that the face of a sport, the man with the highest-paid endorsement deals and one of the highest-paid salaries has accomplished almost nothing. Could you imagine the Yankees or Red Sox giving a $200 million contract to a career .200 hitter? How about the Heat or Lakers giving a $100 million contract to a guy averaging seven points a game? The thought of such a thing seems ludicrous, yet the highest-paid driver in NASCAR is currently averaging one win per four seasons over the last eight years. Just let that sink in for a few moments.”
• Olmstead conducted a poll asking – Does Dale Earnhardt Jr. deserve to be the highest-paid driver in NASCAR? After the first 355 votes it was 56.6 yes and 43.4 no. Nearly 100 votes later it climbed to 59 percent saying yes. The results, of course, shouldn’t surprise anyone, after all it’s these fans who help Junior sell 13 million bucks in hats and T-shirts.
Let me ask the fans that voted yes. If you had to bet your next month’s pay on a winner of an up-coming race would you bet on Earnhardt Jr.?
A show of hands, how many of you have heard of Carl Long. Better yet, can you tell me his car number? With all the chatter about Denny Hamlin refusing to pay his $25,000 fine, some people are thinking about Carl Long. The Associated Press did a piece on Long, a struggling Cup driver who was found with an illegal engine at the 2009 All-Star race. I believe the engine was leased.
His crew chief (who wasn’t named in the article) was fined $200,000.
“The crew chief nor Long could pay the fine. Under NASCAR rules, the fine was reverted to the car owner, which was Long’s wife, DeeDee. Unable to drive until the fine is paid, Long was still able to work in the Cup garage because his wife was technically responsible for settling the debt. But last year, Long said NASCAR transferred the fine to his name and he’s no longer allowed inside the Cup garage. ‘Last year at Daytona, they issued me as the driver the fine, and I couldn’t pay $200,000, so I was escorted out of the Cup garage. NASCAR basically let me know that anybody on the crew roster could be held responsible for the fine, all the way down to the tire guy. Anybody on the crew roster, they can leverage the fine against him, no matter whom. Actually, no matter what, if you are signed in on a crew roster, you are hanging by a thread.
“Long is allowed to work in NASCAR in any other series, and he’s currently a jack of all trades for Rick Ware Racing in the Nationwide Series. He’s also a part-time Nationwide driver, and has made 37 starts since the All-Star race incident. But he said he’s clearing just over $35,000 a year after paying all his expenses, which means he’ll likely never be back in a Sprint Cup car because he lacks the means to clear his debt with NASCAR.”
• And, oh yeah, his number was 46 and somewhere downstairs among my collectables I have a Carl Long Fan Club shirt I bought eight to 10 years ago … to help out a struggling Cup driver.
Defending Pro All Star Series South Champion Kyle Grissom charged from 12th after a lap 100 competition caution to lead just nine laps and held on to with the PASS South Super Late Model Bash at the Beach 150 at Myrtle Beach Speedway, March 16. It was his sixth PASS South Super Late Model win. Last week’s winner and PASS South points leader Austin Theriault finished second. Ben Rowe was seventh.
K&N Pro Series East
The East Series was at the Bristol Motor Speedway, March 16 for the Drive4COPD 125. Seventeen-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski won. Eddie MacDonald was seventh while Steven Legendre finished 15th, on the lead lap.
Quote of the Week (Funny)
Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips sponsored the Nationwide race at Bristol. Foxworthy has made a living with his phrase, “You may be a redneck if …” When asked the other day if he had a favorite one when it came to racing, he replied, “You may be a redneck if you named your son Dale Jr. and your name isn’t Dale.”
Thinking Out Loud
Driving around the .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway in under 15 seconds – Wow! Kyle Busch won the pole running a lap in 14.813 seconds. That broke the track record by .09 seconds. Kasey Kahne (14.875) and Denny Hamlin (14.879) also turned times under 15 seconds.
• Hey, Brian France, if you’re reading this, you have only one job to do today before going to bed. Do something about the series running only six of the 36 races on a short track.
• If France refuses to add more short tracks I have an idea on how to jazz up the season finale. Don’t go to Homestead but go to Bristol instead. But add 500 laps. Make them run 1,000 laps. Who wouldn’t pay to watch that?
• Tony Stewart may not be lobbying France for more short tracks. Since he won at Bristol in 2001, he has only three top 5s in his last 22 starts there.
• The Labonte brothers, Bobby and Terry, have been in racing most, if not all, of their lives. I wonder what they think now, waking up on a Sunday, knowing they have very little chance of winning.
Terry has 22 career wins and two championships while Bobby has 21 wins and a championship. It’s sad there aren’t more good cars to go around. I don’t think either of these guys woke up one day and forgot how to drive a race car.
• It was Kyle Busch’s 11th career pole in 297 starts and his first at Bristol in his 17 tries. His previous best start there was ninth in August of 2008.
• I refuse to listen to a guy talk racing wearing a Digger jacket. If you missed this on your TV last Sunday you’re lucky. Can I charge Fox for a new remote, mine’s about worn out.
• Have you been around the game long enough to remember when it killed you to pit on the back stretch at a short track? If you were stuck out back and you were the leader everyone pitting on the front stretch before the pace car dropped you off out back. By the time the leader came back out he’d lose about 20 spots.
Hard to believe it took decades before someone figured out under yellow to have everyone enter in turn two and exit in turn one. Bristol is the only track left with two pit roads.
• Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a big fan of all this instant news stuff, like texting and those tweet machines. I was home watching the Nationwide race last Saturday, my wife was gone most of the day. Like about every other race I tune into, I’m about 30 minutes behind the real time with my DVR.
Julie comes home, sits down and is looking at her cellphone. She’s half chatting with me while chatting with some friends. I’m watching the race with about 20 to go and she blurts out, “Diane says she’s no Busch fan but she’s glad he won and not that new kid Kyle Larson.” I looked over at her in disbelief, realizing she doesn’t know she just ruined the finish for me. A few minutes go by before she figured out her mistake.
• Jeff Gordon’s car was pushed down pit road after the national anthem. What held them up in tech?
• Kurt Busch picked up only his second top 5 in the last 45 races.
• Am I the only one who has trouble finding anything on the “all new” NASCAR.com? I use Jayski.com 99.9 percent of the time, but he listed time trials from Bristol in miles-per-hour and I was looking for times.
What a mess that site is. The names on the point standings page, complete with a photo of the driver, are so large you can’t see more than nine positions at a time.
Devil’s Bowl Dirt Modifieds to Run at Thunder Road
Thunder Road kicks off the season with the ACT Late Model Tour running the Merchants Bank 150 on April 27-28 and closing out with the 51st running of the Milk Bowl on October 5-6.
The schedule will include 18 events, with 14 counting towards the Late Model Track Title. The 51st Mekkelsen RV Memorial Day Classic, May 26, will have the Devil’s Bowl Dirt Modifieds making their first Thunder Road appearance to run a 50-lap feature before the Late Model’s 100-lap classic.
NE Antique Racers run June 9 and the North East Mini Stock Tour, June 16. The Governor’s Cup 150 is July 11. The 29th Annual Enduro is set for August 11. The ACT Tour returns September 1 for the Labor Day Classic. October 5-6 ends the season with the three-segment Milk Bowl.
Until Next Week
Every day find someone or something that makes you laugh.