Matt Kenseth and NASCAR's 10 Biggest Paydays of 2011

David DeNennoContributor IIISeptember 8, 2011

Matt Kenseth and NASCAR's 10 Biggest Paydays of 2011

0 of 11

    It is fairly common knowledge that the Daytona 500, the first race of every season, is the most prestigious single win and lucrative purse in all of NASCAR.  Indeed, the paychecks for first place through fifth place would be the five highest for the whole season. 

    Trevor Bayne, this year’s winner, collected a cool $1.46 million for his surprise victory. 

    The fifth-place finisher, Kurt Busch, sped his Dodge Charger to a $573,000 check.  Further, the sixth through 10th place finishers would almost completely round out the top 10 paychecks of 2011.

    For the purposes of this list, the Daytona 500 race paydays are excluded.  This is strictly based on earnings from an individual win that counted towards points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase.

    A win is certainly not all about the money. The payday is also not directly correlative to the prestige of the race. 

    Not all of the paychecks mentioned here are for wins.  Two second-place purses are included: Can you guess which races?  Here are the 10 biggest paydays of the NASCAR season so far, not counting the Daytona 500.

10. $314, 311

1 of 11

    The Monster Mile in Dover, Del., netted Matt Kenseth his second win of the season yet only his third-largest check. 

    His 34th place after crashing out at the Daytona 500 actually earned him about $1,000 more.

    As an aside, the Dover race also issues one of the coolest trophies for the winner in all of NASCAR.

9. $329,386

2 of 11

    Jimmie Johnson (No. 48) won the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega by an almost unfathomably low margin of 0.002 seconds.

    Clint Bowyer (No. 33), taking second place at this race, earned a check that was $60,000 less.

    Sixty thousand dollars in 0.002 seconds.  How much does that equate to per hour?  Like Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson’s 27th place at the Daytona 500 actually earned him a little more: $300 extra.

8. $329,786

3 of 11

    Just as Jeff Gordon bested Jimmie Johnson by a very small margin at the AdvoCare 500, he also got a slightly bigger purse than Jimmie Johnson's victory Talladega check: an extra $400.

    This was a historic day for Gordon.  It is doubtful whether he had money on his mind after taking sole possession of third place on the all-time wins list.

    The few NASCAR fans who were able to attend this heavily delayed event should cherish it.  This record will not be touched for at least a few years.

7. $331,961

4 of 11

    The 2011 season got rolling for Kevin Harvick in his home state of California at the Auto Club Speedway. 

    The winning and the earning did not stop here, however.

6. $353,883

5 of 11

    Clint Bowyer officially made the list for finishing in second place at Texas Motor Speedway.

    This time, however, his paycheck was much fatter and the margin of victory by Matt Kenseth much less riveting than Bowyer’s second place to Jimmie Johnson at Talladega. 

    Bowyer placed second at the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway by a fairly big margin: 8.315 seconds.

5. $358,536

6 of 11

    This is the only other second-place paycheck on this list.  Jeff Gordon looked as though he would take the checkered flag at Indianapolis, but it was not to be.

    Granted, it is not surprising that the Brickyard 400 is a good payday. 

    The race is broadcast on network television and probably provides advertising funds that beef up the overall purse well above NASCAR’s average.

4. $373,575

7 of 11

    Coincidentally, Paul Menard’s first victory was at Indianapolis, where he finished ahead of Jeff Gordon. 

    Surely he accepted the handsome sum afforded to the winner.  However, it is almost certain that his memory of kissing the bricks at this hallowed ground had a far greater—if not priceless—value.

3. $401,541

8 of 11

    Jackpot!  Las Vegas is the location of Carl Edwards’ only Sprint Cup victory this year.  This has been a good year for his bank account:  His second-place finish at the Daytona 500 and his win at the All-Star Race in Charlotte (no points earned) equal about five times the amount he made at this race.

    Edwards has a very good chance to clear $8 million in earnings for his 2011 season.  No one can blame Jack Roush for wanting to keep him on his team.

2. $406,786

9 of 11

    This is a check that Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans thought (for a short time) he would get to cash.  Leading the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte going into the final turn of the race, he ran out of gas and had to settle for seventh place.

    Kevin Harvick served as the beneficiary of this slight error in calculation. 

    I attended this race.  No one in the stands knew Harvick had won until he was burning out at the finish line. 

    All eyes were on Earnhardt Jr., and an ironic silence of disappointment hushed the decibels of 35 running engines.

    Some estimates claim that all Earnhardt Jr. needed was about an extra can of Coke worth of gas to win.  That can of Coke cost him close to $275,000.

1. $525,886

10 of 11

    The biggest paycheck of the year went to Matt Kenseth for his first win of the season in Texas.  Clint Bowyer was 8.315 seconds away from topping the list. 

    It is a bit surprising that the Texas race offered the biggest check of the 2011.  It only held its first Sprint Cup race in 1997 after opening in 1996. I suppose everything is just bigger in Texas.

The Smallest Winner: $200,786

11 of 11

    On the other side, Kevin Harvick’s victory at Martinsville this year was the lowest check written to a Sprint Cup race winner.

    He did, however, win a beautiful grandfather clock.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!