Keselowski Joins Boss in Being Voted "Most Popular"; Earnhardt Jr.'s young driver caps breakout season with first MPD Award

MOORESVILLE, N.C. - For once, Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn't the only one inside JR Motorsports who is most popular among his peers. Brad Keselowski now is as well.

The two racers were each named their division's most popular drivers in 2008 - Earnhardt Jr. in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driving the No. 88 Amp Energy/National Guard Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, and Keselowski in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driving the No. 88 Chevy for JR Motorsports. Online fan-voting determined the winner in each series.

"This was a breakout year for Brad, and it's really cool that the fans recognized his talents and personality enough to cast their votes for him," Earnhardt Jr. said. "We'll have fun with this, because we have a lot of fun racing each other when I drive in the Nationwide Series. This is one more thing we can be competitive about."

Keselowski's award comes on the heels of an exceptional year. In his first full season of competition in the series, Keselowski finished third in points and was the highest-finishing Nationwide regular. He finished the year with two wins (Nashville and Bristol), one pole award, 11 top-fives and 20 top-10s.

"To be voted by the fans to win the Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver award really puts an exclamation point on this season," Keselowski said. "I think back to where I was two years ago, and consider myself so fortunate to be in this position at JR Motorsports. The fans have been extremely supportive of me, and I can't thank them enough for this award and the continued support they show."

As for Earnhardt Jr., his sixth consecutive Chex NMPA Most Popular Driver award was confirmed in New York on Thursday at the Myers Brothers Media Luncheon after receiving more than 1 million fan votes. Only Bill Elliott (1991-2000) has more consecutive Most Popular Driver titles. Earnhardt Jr. now sits behind Elliott (16) and Richard Petty (9) for most total awards.

"This award never gets old, and I've never taken it for granted," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I think a lot of credit goes to Amp Energy and National Guard. It's not as easy as people think being the sponsor of my race cars. With it comes a lot of attention, expectations, and sometimes even unfair criticism. Both Amp and National Guard embraced the challenges this year and succeeded in establishing a strong connection with my fan base."

-credit: jrm