Hopkins

Lawsuit reveals salary of former tire changer at Michael Waltrip Racing

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A lawsuit between Michael Waltrip Racing and a former tire changer provides insights into how much over-the-wall crew members in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series can make, according to an ESPN.com report.

Brandon Hopkins sued the team in January in North Carolina Superior Court. Michael Waltrip Racing responded last week and had the case moved to the state’s Business Court.

The ESPN.com report states that Hopkins made $160,000 per year for MWR. He joined the organization in 2012. Court documents, cited by ESPN.com, state that Hopkins’ salary as an MWR employee was $50,000. He also was paid a salary of $97,000 as an over-the-wall crew member and paid $13,000 to participate in the team’s training program. The two-year deal was for the 2014 and ’15 seasons.

Hopkins is suing the team because he claims he was fired in 2014 after demanding to have surgery for an injury suffered on pit road. The team claims that Hopkins stole a specially made air gun the same day he sought permission to talk to other teams.

Hopkins claims he was fired the day before shoulder surgery in August 2014 for an injury he said he suffered after being hit while pitting Clint Bowyer’s car at Kansas in October 2013. He alleges he was fired for stealing a pit-road air gun. He claims he was allowed to take his pit gun home and mistakenly took the wrong pit gun.

In its response, MWR alleges that Hopkins did not use the pit gun he was authorized to use at Pocono in August 2014. MWR states that it has footage of Hopkins taking that gun and putting it in his car the Monday after the Pocono race after asking for permission to waive the non-compete clause in his contract so he could seek employment elsewhere.

MWR also alleges that Hopkins’ backup gun went missing earlier in the season and was never located.