Dale Jr. nabs 11th straight Most Popular award
December 05, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Dale Earnhardt Jr. tops fan ballot with more than 700,000 votes
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was announced Thursday as winner of the NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award for a record 11th consecutive time.
Earnhardt topped the fan balloting, conducted by the National Motorsports Press Association, with more than 700,000 votes to continue a streak that began in 2003. His 11th award broke a tie for most consecutive most popular driver awards with Bill Elliott, who still holds the all-time record as a 16-time award recipient.
The results of the voting were announced Thursday at the annual NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon, part of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week, at the Wynn Las Vegas.
"We always have such great support from our fans," Earnhardt said. "They always come through every year, and this year we feel like we were giving them a lot to cheer for on the race track and paying them back for all the years they've voted for us to win this award."
The top 10 vote-getters were: 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2. Kasey Kahne, 3. Jeff Gordon, 4. Tony Stewart, 5. Danica Patrick, 6. Jimmie Johnson, 7. Kevin Harvick, 8. Matt Kenseth, 9. Kyle Busch, 10. Carl Edwards.
More than 1 million votes were cast for 39 eligible drivers, according to the NMPA. Fans were allowed to vote once a day during the Sprint Cup season for their favorite driver.
Elliott dominated the most popular driver balloting from 1984 to 2002 -- his reign interrupted only by Darrell Waltrip's awards in 1989 and '90, and the posthumous award to Dale Earnhardt in 2001.
"I don't really keep track of the stats or the score, but Bill was a great driver and ambassador for the sport," Earnhardt Jr. said. "He represents the sport really well to this day, as does his son Chase, who's coming up and carrying on the family name. But, I've always looked up to Bill as a driver so it's pretty neat."