The largest chunk of that money will go to the winner. The 2012 Daytona 500 champion is guaranteed a minimum payout of $1,431,325. Even the first loser (also known as the second place finisher) will take home a check in excess of $1 million. The posted guaranteed award for second place is $1,050,075.
The guaranteed payout for the top five finishers in the 2012 Daytona 500 looks like this:
- 1st - $1,431,325
- 2nd - $1,050,075
- 3rd - $759,600
- 4th - $609,900
- 5th - $486,550
How Does The 2012 Daytona 500 Stack Up?
By comparison the winner of the 2011 Daytona 500, Trevor Bayne, collected $1,462,563 for his effort. While this is more than the 2012 winner is guaranteed the actual payout this year will almost certainly exceed last year's winnings when contingency money is included.
It's interesting to note the stark difference between what the Daytona 500 pays its winners and what other races can afford. For example: Kyle Busch's win at Bristol Motor Speedway in March of 2011 netted him just $192,416.
Even the other biggest races in NASCAR don't compare to the Daytona 500 payout. The 2011 Coca-Cola 600 paid winner Kevin Harvick $406,786 and Paul Menard collected $373,575 for his 2011 Brickyard 400 score. Both of those are still well above the average of $337,000 for all 2011 races. The average drops to roughly $282,000 if you take out the Daytona 500 and the All-Star Race.
How does that average race winner's paycheck compare to the 2011 Daytona 500? Only four drivers in the entire 2011 Daytona 500 field earned less than $282,000. The lowest paid driver last year was J.J. Yeley who finished dead last and earned $268,550 for his effort. That's more than the race winner gets in many Sprint Cup events.
But Wait, There's More
The 2012 Daytona 500 includes an incentive for the race leader at the halfway point. If the race is green at lap 100 the driver that leads that lap will collect a $200,000 bonus. If the race is under caution at the half then the $200,000 bonus will be awarded after the race has completed five consecutive green flag laps.
This is a nice bonus which equates to the winner's share of the purse in some other races. I can't see wrecking your car to try to pick up the halfway bonus but without a doubt that's an attractive incentive for teams to push a little harder near the halfway point.
Daytona 500 Purse Pushing All-Star Race?
Bruton Smith and Charlotte Motor Speedway like to make a big deal out of the Sprint All-Star Race and it's $1 Million payout to the race winner. Considering the fact that the second place finisher in Daytona could easily win more than the All-Star Race winner I think it is time for Bruton Smith to up the ante.
It's time for the 2012 All-Star Race to step up and award $2,000,000 to its winner in May. Because of the smaller field size and the precipitous drop in purse between the first and second place finishers it wouldn't cost them significantly more, certainly much less than Daytona's $19 Million purse, but they could still claim to have the richest race winner of the year.
The Daytona 500 is "The Superbowl of NASCAR," "The Great American Race" and a host of other superlatives. Posting a record purse where even the second place team collects more money than any other race just enhances the prestige of this great event even more.