Dale Earnhardt Jr. was NASCAR's highest-paid driver last year with an income of $23.8 million, Forbes magazine reported Wednesday.
Six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was second at $22.5 million and four-time champion Jeff Gordon was third at $18.6 million, according to Forbes, which based its estimates on the drivers' salaries, endorsements and their share of race winnings and licensing income.
All three drivers race for the Hendrick Motorsports team.
The report comes as the hugely popular Earnhardt prepares to defend his Daytona 500 victory last year; this year's Daytona 500 is Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in Florida. Gordon sits on the pole after posting the fastest speed in qualifying.
The report also coincided with the 14th anniversary of the death of Earnhardt's father, seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt Sr., who died at age 49 in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001.
"One [sic] this day I do not mourn his death. I thank God he lived," the younger Earnhardt said on Twitter, one of many in NASCAR Nation who took to social media to remember his father.
Kelley Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s sister, said on Twitter: "Greatest NASCAR Driver ever. Gone too soon. Miss you Dad."
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