The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing – NASCAR – is the king of auto racing in North America. Casual sports fans who tune in to watch races once per week are most familiar with the Sprint Cup Series, but that is not the only NASCAR competition featured on a variety of television stations throughout the calendar year. The Nationwide Series and Camping World True Series are just two other competitions sanctioned by NASCAR.
NASCAR stopped providing attendance estimates for Sprint Cup events after 2012. Average attendance for races that year was 97,722. Attendance figures for Sprint Cup races have been down over the past several years, but NASCAR remains big business for the teams involved.
According to Forbes, the top nine NASCAR teams featured in this list are worth an average of $140 million.
These are the 10 most valuable NASCAR teams of 2014.
9 Richard Petty Motorsports: $50 Million
The man commonly referred to as “The King” is unquestionably one of the more famous figures in the history of United States auto racing. He won the NASCAR Championship on seven occasions, a feat only matched by the late Dale Earnhardt. Richard Petty was one of five members of the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class.
Petty holds a small stake in the RPM team, which was bought by Andrew Murstain and Douglas Bergeron in 2010.
It's been a rough year for RPM. The team has experienced a 4 percent drop in value from 2013. Two of its drivers finished in the top 22 of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series. Aric Almirola finished No.18. Marcos Ambrose finished No. 22.
8 Chip Ganassi Racing: $69 Million
Ganassi went through a noteworthy change earlier this year. Theresa Earnhardt, the widow of the previously mentioned all-time racing legend, split from the team, a move that surprised Chip Ganassi. Ganassi spoke about the end of that relationship last February.
“I don’t have a good answer for you,” Ganassi told reporters. “We had a relationship and I don’t know what happened. We can’t get her on the phone; it’s hard to try to communicate with somebody. She obviously has some other things on her plate, I guess, and that’s her prerogative.”
The Ganassi team saw a value drop of five percent from a year ago.
The team has reason for hope. Kyle Larson, who fell just short in his bid to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, is a Rookie of the Year candidate, and the 22-year-old should only get better over the next several years.
7 Michael Waltrip Racing: $80 Million
More and more sports entities are learning the hard way that one poor decision or selfish action can bring with it serious ramifications.
MWR was the center of a significant controversy involving the finish of the final regular season race of 2013, an event that occurred at Richmond. Team driver Clint Bowyer spun his vehicle out of control, allegedly on purpose, in order to benefit fellow drivers Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers and Joey Logano.
That incident was frowned upon by NASCAR and by one noteworthy sponsor. NAPA auto parts dropped what had been a 12-year relationship with Waltrip, and MWR is now a two-car team. The value of MWR is down 20 percent from last year.
6 Team Penske: $108 Million
Brad Keselowski is the star of the NASCAR wing of Team Penske. Keselowski first began to make a name for himself in 2007, and he went on to win the 2012 Sprint Cup Championship. That victory earned Keselowski and team owner Richard Penske invitations to the White House.
That is far from the only success the Penske team has enjoyed over the year.
Forbes reports that Penske is one of the richest individuals in all of motorsports. He has a net worth of $1.3 billion. Team Penske is the first on this list to be up from 2013, having experienced a two percent value increase over the past year.
Both IndyCar and NASCAR teams fall under the “Team Penske” brand.
5 Richard Childress Racing: $128 Million
RCR has made plenty of news over the past year. Kevin Harvick, the top RCR driver and the only one under the team brand to win a race in 2013, departed for Stewart-Haas Racing before the start of the 2014 season. Harvick wasn't alone in leaving Childress, as Budweiser also decided to move on after 2013.
RCR will, so long as it is in existence, be associated with Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt is far and away the best driver in the history of the team. Earnhardt's No. 3, which had been out of service in Sprint Cup competitions since he died in an accident that occurred at the end of the 2001 Daytona 500, returned in 2014. Austin Dillon, grandson of Richard Childress, operates that car.
4 Stewart-Haas Racing: $148 Million
Half of the team's namesake made worldwide headlines in August of 2014 when an unfortunate incident resulted in the death of a 20-year-old.
Stewart competed in a dirt track race taking place at Canandaigua, New York on the night of August 9. Stewart's car made contact with the vehicle operated by Kevin Ward Jr. halfway through the race, and Ward's car spun out after hitting the wall.
Ward walked out of his car and remained on the track as Steward completed his lap. One car was able to avoid Ward, who was seen to be gesturing at Stewart as the Sprint Car racer approached. Stewart's car made contact with the young driver, a collision that resulted in Ward losing his life.
Stewart has since returned to racing.
3 Roush Fenway Racing: $157 Million
Fenway Sports has its hand in several sports worlds. It has owned the Boston Red Sox for over a decade, and it also controls the rights to Fenway Park. Fenway Sports bought Barclays Premier League Team Liverpool FC and Anfield, that club's stadium, in 2010. The investment company also owns 80 percent of cable television station The New England Sports Network.
July brought with it good and bad news for Roush Fenway racing. Greg Biffle put pen to paper on an extension that will keep him with the team. Carl Edwards informed Roush Fenway that he was parting ways with the organization, however, and he ultimately signed with Joe Gibbs Racing.
2 Joe Gibbs Racing: $171 Million
Joe Gibbs made his name as a National Football League head coach with the Washington Redskins. He won Sporting News Coach of the Year honors on three occasions. Gibbs helped lead the Redskins to four Super Bowl games, three of those won by Washington.
Gibbs Racing is one of the top teams in all of NASCAR. It's value of $171 million is up 2 percent from 2013. Coca-Cola has been a sponsor for nearly two decades (18 years to be exact). Home Depot has had a partnership with Gibbs for 14 years.
1 Hendrick Motorsports: $348 Million
One way to describe the dominance of Hendrick Motorsports would be to say that it is the New England Patriots of NASCAR.
More accurately, the Patriots wish they were the Hendrick of the NFL.
Highest NASCAR winnings. Highest merchandise sales. Highest sponsorship revenue. Hendrick holds bragging rights for all of those accomplishments.
No team has more star power than does Hendrick. Dale Earnhardt Jr. remains the most popular driver in all of NASCAR. Jeff Gordon is a four-time Sprint Cup champion. Jimmie Johnson won the title every year from 2006 through 2010, and he is the reigning and defending Sprint Cup champion.
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