For 15 consecutive seasons, Dale Earnhardt Jr. held the “Most Popular Driver” torch with pride. Now, all eyes are on the current drivers to find out who fills the vacancy.
Kevin Harvick already has an idea on who the fans will gravitate toward when voting comes around this year.
And it’s a name on which many are likely to agree.
“I would say the next guy that’s going to take that reign is going to be Chase Elliott,” the Stewart-Haas Racing veteran said Friday at Kansas. “When you look at our sport, there’s only a few guys that come through this sport that have the name, the history, the heritage of that NASCAR family. … and Chase is one of those guys.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver pilots the No. 9 Chevrolet, a number quite familiar to the Elliott family and NASCAR fans alike. Bill Elliott, Chase’s father, wheeled the No. 9 to Victory Lane 38 times throughout his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
“Awesome Bill from Dawsonville” also happened to win the Most Popular Driver Award 16 times, the most all-time for any driver.
However, Harvick also sees more than just a last name when it comes to the 22-year-old driver, who is still vying for his first Monster Energy Series victory.
“He’s done a great job of carrying himself. He’s the next Dale Jr.,” Harvick said. “… Is he going to win enough to be the megastar? At some point.
“He’s a star right now. Winning takes you to that next level of being a bigger star. Chase Elliott winning is better for our sport.”