NASCAR's highest-earning drivers, according to Forbes

NASCAR is in a transition phase amid a recent downturn in its business, but the stock car racing circuit’s top stars are still capable of earning a huge paycheck.

The sport has contended with steady declines in attendance and television ratings in recent years, while earnings for NASCAR’s top 10 highest-paid stars have declined 36 percent, according to Forbes. The trend prompted NASCAR officials to take action last May with the $2 billion purchase of 12 racetracks from the International Speedway Corporation, in an apparent bid to gain more control over an event schedule that critics have deemed too rigorous.

While NASCAR has lacked a true crossover marketing star since Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s retirement in 2017, the sport’s list of top-earning drivers is full of familiar faces. FOX Business breaks down the highest-paid stars below, according to Forbes’ annual calculations.

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson prepares to climb into his car during practice for the NASCAR Daytona 500 auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Terry Renna / Associated Press)

2018 earnings: $17.5 million

A seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Johnson is arguably the sport’s most recognizable active driver. He is also the circuit’s only driver with an annual salary of at least $10 million, according to Forbes. Johnson’s car is sponsored by Ally Financial. He has endorsement deals with Gatorade and Chevrolet.

Kyle Busch

2018 earnings: $15.8 million

Busch, 34, has 55 career wins in the NASCAR’s main circuit and more than 200 career wins overall. He has several corporate partners, including Toyota, M&Ms, Skittles, Pedigree and Interstate Batteries, and is known as “Rowdy” to his fans.

Denny Hamlin

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE - AUGUST 17: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, is introduced prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 17, 2019 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo

2018 earnings: $14.2 million

Hamlin, 38, drives the No. 11 car for Joe Gibbs Racing and has twice won the prestigious Daytona 500. His sponsors include FedEx, Toyota, Coca-Cola and Nike’s Jordan Brand.

Kevin Harvick

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - SEPTEMBER 07: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Vodka 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 07, 2019 in India

2018 earnings: $13.1 million

A fixture in the NASCAR Cup Series for nearly two decades, Harvick has finished in the top 10 in more than 350 races and regularly competes for the championship. He has endorsement deals with Busch Beer, Jimmy John’s and Outback Steakhouse, among other companies.

Joey Logano

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 10: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, stands by his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 10, 2019 in Brooklyn, Mic

2018 earnings: $11 million

The 29-year-old Connecticut native established himself as a bona fide star in the sport by winning the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Logano’s deep stable of corporate partners includes Ford, Autotrader, Coca-Cola, AAA and Planet Fitness.