Earnhardt Jr continues his reign as NASCAR's most popular driver

At Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, “Junior” tied Bill Elliott with ten consecutive wins; but he did not touch the overall total that “Wild Bill” has accumulated.

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."

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Photo by: Getty Images

Elliott still holds sole possession of overall most popular wins with 16 in total. He claimed his 16th award in 2002 after withdrawing from the contest in 2001. The late Dale Earnhardt was voted Most Popular Driver that year. Earnhardt Jr. has claimed the honor every year since Elliott's last award, beginning in 2003.

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.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

NASCAR did not reveal the finishing order of the other nine finalists. What was revealed, though, was the approximate number of total votes cast -- more than 934,000. Fans were allowed to vote once daily throughout the season.

"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.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Eric Gilbert , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports
Article type Breaking news
Tags dale, earnhardt, elliott, hendrick, junior, myers brothers, nascar, nascar-cup, nmpa