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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Who's NASCAR's highest paid driver? Hint: He hasn't won in a while, and his first name is Dale

In perhaps the least shocking news of the year, NASCAR's favorite son is also its most profitable son. Yes, despite his very long winless streak, good old Jr. is just as popular as every, and between his salary at Hendrick, his race earnings, his ad money, money from merchandise, etc., Mr. Earnhardt took in $28 million last year.

Not bad. Considering five-time champ Jimmie Johnson could only muster $21 million, and multiple champs Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart were at $24 million and $22 million. Forbes magazine compiled the list

Dale Jr. has said that his name has both helped and hurt him at times in his career; in the pocketbook, it most certainly helps.

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- $28 million
2. Jeff Gordon -- $24 million
3. Tony Stewart -- $22 million
4. Jimmie Johnson -- $21 million
5. Carl Edwards -- $15.5 million
6. Kevin Harvick -- $14 million
7. Kyle Busch -- $14 million
8. Danica Patrick -- $12 million [indy car]
9. Matt Kenseth -- $11.5 million
10. Kasey Kahne -- $11 million

Who the hell is John King?
From the not shocking we go to the absolutely shocking.

That demolition derby/truck race Friday was fun to watch, though scary at times, and I just have one question: Does anyone know this kid who won?

John King won the race, a tribute to the surprising nature of Daytona, and I have to give him credit for surviving that carnage fest and making it to the top.

But I can honestly say I have never even heard this kid's name mentioned one time, and I watch basically every NASCAR race. I don't think that's ever happened before; hell, I even know who Donny Lia was when he won a truck race.

Good for King, and I wish him luck. Now that he's won, the pressure will be on to run well every week or he'll be dismissed as a flash in the pan.

Congrats to Danica
Speaking of shocks, Danica shocked the world with her first NASCAR pole, as she'll lead the Nationwide drivers to the flag Saturday.

That's quite an accomplishment for someone who not long ago could barely figure out how to drive these cars. If she can start to do well in the actual races and run up front, she might silence some of her biggest doubters.

Of course, Daytona isn't really the true measure of things, so I'll reserve judgment until I see her running at the nonplate tracks, but still, you can't deny that she beat all the boys in qualifying, and a lady, not a gentleman, will start her engine up front for the first time since Shawna Robinson almost 20 years ago.

That's definitely nothing to sneeze at, and she deserves the accolades she'll be getting for this accomplishment.

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