NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, was named the NASCAR National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Most Popular Driver for the 10th consecutive year on Thursday during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Luncheon at the Wynn hotel and casino in Las Vegas. The 2012 honor ties Earnhardt with retired driver Bill Elliott for most consecutive most popular honors.
"It was an honor to hear that I won this year and am now tied with Bill for 10 in a row," Earnhardt said. "I've enjoyed this award because it's a testament to my fans. I appreciate their loyalty and dedication. It was great to get back in Victory Lane this year for my team and for my fans. I'm looking forward to a successful 2013, and am proud to accept this award on behalf of all the fans that voted."
Fans began voting for their favorite drivers in February. At the start of the 2012 race season, all drivers eligible for championship points in the Sprint Cup Series were eligible for the fan-voted award. The top-10 vote-getters were determined and eligible for the second round of fan voting in September, coinciding with the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
The 10 drivers who made it to the second round of voting included Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart. Their vote totals were rest to zero to begin the second round of voting.
"Each year, NASCAR fans show their passion for their favorite driver in the NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver voting," NMPA President Rea White said. "This award is not only for the driver, but also for the fans as something they can claim as their own at the end of each season. We're proud we can continue this tradition and once again the fans have spoken, selecting a great representative in Dale Earnhardt Jr."
The Most Popular Driver Award has been handed out yearly since 1956.