Three Straight For Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Wins Vote For Chex NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver; Over 4.1 million votes cast by race car fans nationwide NEW YORK (December 2, 2005) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won his third straight Chex NMPA NASCAR Most...
Three Straight For Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Wins Vote For Chex NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver; Over 4.1 million votes cast by race car fans nationwide
NEW YORK (December 2, 2005) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won his third straight Chex NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award.
The announcement was made today during the National Motorsports Press Association's (NMPA) Myers Brothers Awards Breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City that a record number of fans nationwide have again voted the North Carolinian as the most popular driver in the most popular form of motorsports in the United States.
"It's a huge honor to win the Most Popular Driver award just one time, but to win it three times in a row is pretty overwhelming. I just want to thank the fans, and I want to thank Chex and the National Motorsports Press Association for the award," Earnhardt said.
"This one probably means more to me than the others because of the kind of year we had. It's one thing to have fan support when you're riding high and winning races. It's another thing to have it during the rough times," he continued. "No matter what we went through this year, I never once felt like my fans were turning on me and the Budweiser team. It's amazing to have that kind of support. It makes the team want to work that much harder and me drive that much faster. I can't thank the fans enough for what they've meant to me in my career."
A record 4,157,443 votes were cast in 2005, a huge jump for an award which never had more than 400,000 votes in a year prior to General Mills sponsorship. Chex began sponsorship of the award this season, replacing Grands! Biscuits, which had sponsored it since the beginning of the 2002 season. Earnhardt, Jr. has led the voting since the start of the 2003 season, and easily captured enough votes in the record-setting 2005 year to again win the award. He finished with 1,403,544 votes, which is also an all-time record.
"The fans have pretty well made a statement in regards to their favorite driver in this era," said Kenny Bruce, president of the NMPA. "They have also made a statement as to the importance of this award. We appreciate every fan who voted, and we really appreciate Chex for its sponsorship."
"On behalf of Chex and General Mills, I want to congratulate Dale Earnhardt Jr. on winning this award for the third straight year," said Chex Marketing Manager Trevor Bynum. "We also want to thank the millions of fans who voted and made this award possible with their continued strong support."
Jeff Gordon finished second in the voting at www.mostpopulardriver.com with 594,434 votes. Kasey Kahne was third with 343,154; 2005 Champion Tony Stewart fourth with 246,026; and retiring Rusty Wallace fifth with 214,026. Rounding out the top 10 were Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Jimmie Johnson.
The NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award dates back to 1956, making it one of the oldest and most traditional awards in NASCAR racing. It began as a simple poll of the drivers and later grew to incorporate all NASCAR Nextel Cup competitors. Later, it included all NASCAR members. Today, it is a prestigious award voted on by racing fans throughout the world. Through the years, voters' choices have ranged from the obvious to the surprising.
Bill Elliott's 16 most popular wins tops all drivers. He is followed by Richard Petty, who has won nine times. Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s win last year made him the fifth driver in NASCAR history to win the award in consecutive seasons, while his win in 2003 made him and his father, the late Dale Earnhardt, the only father-son combination to have won. Other past winners have included such notables as Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip.