Do drivers know how much money their competitors make? Absolutely, even if they say otherwise.
Unlike other sports, we don’t know what they make. They all have their own, private contracts that are just not released to the public.
So the question comes up when a driver’s contract is up for renewal: How do you determine what you are worth?
Matt Kenseth has signed a new deal for 2013 – reportedly with Gibbs though it’s not yet official – and word is that Roush wouldn’t match what he got offered by Gibbs, hence his leaving.
When asked how he determined his worth going into contract talks, as compared to his peers, Kenseth as usual offered little insight – keeping things close to the vest as always.
“I don’t talk about that with my peers. I talk to them as much about contracts as I do with you guys. I don’t really audit the garage or ask anybody else what they are making”
Pressed again, he said: “I don’t keep up with it really. You look like you want more but I just don’t keep up with it. It doesn’t matter to me what anybody else makes. I try to put together a deal for myself that I am happy with.”
Pressed yet again: “We are trying to talk about this for not talking about it. I gave you the answer to your original question. I don’t know what anybody else makes and I don’t talk to anyone else about it.”
So we know how he feels, but the fact is that is BS. He knows what the others make, even if he didn’t ask them himself. His people talked to their people, and numbers were figured out. You have to know what others are making in order to know what to ask for yourself. It’s true in all types of businesses.
Other drivers have different takes on the issue.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said: “I think it is just probably different for everybody. I’m not sure how to figure it out at the Cup level because the numbers are so big, and I don’t really deal with that end of it. At the Nationwide level, it just depends on the driver’s experience, and obviously his performance.”
Martin Truex Jr. said it’s more about the team now, not just the driver, and salaries are on the downswing.
“Even the big deals, the money has come down for the past few years, so things have definitely changed. … You don’t want to go in somewhere and say: ‘I demand this much money. This is what I’m worth.” You want to do what’s best for everyone involved.”
The reality is that no one really knows what these guys make, and most fans don’t really care as long as they put on a good show.
But I know this: Matt Kenseth knows what his competitors make, and that’s part of the reason he ended up leaving Roush Racing.