NASCAR star Denny Hamlin says drivers should be paid like NBA, NFL players

Feb 21, 2016; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin (11) poses with the Harley J. Earl Trophy after winning the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports - 9129332

NASCAR racer Denny Hamlin said Wednesday that he believed drivers should be getting paid like NBA and NFL players.  (Reuters)

NASCAR racer Denny Hamlin said Wednesday that he believed drivers should be getting paid like NBA and NFL players.

Hamlin, 36, who was attending a charity event to advocate International Walk to School Day with FedEx, one of his sponsors, told NBC Sports and ESPN that drivers were underpaid.

“We’re way underpaid as racecar drivers,” Hamlin told NBC Sports and ESPN. “There’s no doubt, doing what we do, the schedule that we have and the danger that we incur every single week, NASCAR drivers should be making NBA, NFL money.”

NASCAR drivers normally receive deals within the seven-figure range versus other sports which range from eight to nine figures. ESPN reported there was “no mandatory pay scale for NASCAR drivers.”

NASCAR LEGEND ROBERT YATES DEAD AT 74

“I'm sure this will be in some headline somewhere where Denny says drivers aren't paid enough, but I'm basing it off all other sports. I'm not including myself. I'm including the back half of the field — those drivers are risking the same amount I am and they should be paid a hell of a lot more,” Hamlin said.

The Joe Gibbs Racing sponsored driver said the sponsorship money the racers receive should not be their main salary but “bonus money” for the team.

Denny Hamlin practices for the NASCAR Cup Series 300 auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Denny Hamlin was attending a charity event to advocate International Walk to School Day with FedEx, one of his sponsors, told NBC Sports and ESPN that drivers were underpaid.  (AP)

NASCAR’s television deal, which will run till 2024 and bring in $820 million per year, is broken up and distributed to the track, team and drivers. The track receives 65 percent of the money, teams get 25 percent and drivers 10 percent, ESPN reported.

“Racetracks are making a lot of money,” Hamlin said. “And I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus, but they’ve either got to reinvest that money, which some tracks are.”

ESPN ACQUIRES US TELEVISION RIGHTS FOR FORMULA ONE

“The crew members deserve better working conditions than what they’ve got. We’ve got to hold these tracks to a higher standard, not only with the race surface but the fan experience, the team experience. That money has to be reinvested to give us a better product and something for fans to see,” Hamlin said.

Forbes reported Hamlin earned $15.2 million in 2016, making him the third-highest paid racer that year. However, the top highest-paid racers’ income per year has decreased since 2013.