Chase Elliott wins 2021 NMPA Most Popular Driver Award

Chase Elliott’s National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award presented by Hooters streak is now at four years running as the Hendrick Motorsports driver was awarded the hardware Thursday night at the 2021 NASCAR Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. The NASCAR Awards will air on NBCSN at 7 p.m. ET Saturday.

Elliott topped the balloting, which ran from Nov. 9-Dec. 1 and was based completely on voting by fans. Counting his two Most Popular Driver honors in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2014-15, he now has six Most Popular Driver honors across NASCAR national series.

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Elliott’s recognition added to a long family history with the award. NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, his father, won Most Popular Driver a record 16 times non-consecutively during a span that began in 1984 and ended in 2002. That’s one more than Dale Earnhardt Jr., who claimed the award for 15 straight years until his retirement from full-time driving in 2017.

“Just super grateful to have a lot of great support across the country,” Elliott said. “It’s been super humbling, honestly. I feel like every year that goes by, we go to a new town or a new place and I’m just … like Road America this year, I think back to that event and that weekend and all the folks that were there supporting us was unbelievable.

“For me, I’m just as guilty as anybody, I don’t often realize just how much of an impact you can have or just how much someone is paying attention to what you do – just how much some young man or some young girl is looking up to you. I think those things are important to recognize and try to set a solid example at least or try to most of the time. The fans have been a huge part of my career and super proud to have that support and enjoy trying to make them proud in the process.”

A season after notching his first Cup Series title, Elliott nabbed two wins and reached the Championship 4 for the second straight season before ultimately falling short to Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kyle Larson in the title race at Phoenix Raceway.

The NMPA Most Popular Driver Award was presented to a Hendrick Motorsports driver for the 14th straight year, with Elliott’s four coming on the heels of Earnhardt’s 10 with the same organization.

Elliott emphasized he prides himself on remaining true to who he is as a person and competitor, appreciating the support in the process.

“I think for me, I’m certainly not the loudest person in the room, certainly if I don’t know you very well, either,” Elliott said. “Traveling around, I feel like I always try to do my thing and being in the position that you’re in as a race-car driver, No. 1 to me has always been about performance and trying go fast and do my job and I’ve tried to keep it simple as that. Might be boring in some cases, but it’s how I like to go about my business and how I like to go about my job and it’s how I feel like I can perform the best on Sundays.”

In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Justin Allgaier won the award for the third straight year after a season where he grabbed two wins in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. The award for Allgaier continues a 10-year run for JR Motorsports drivers. Other former JRM drivers to earn the honor during that time include Elliott Sadler (2016-18), Elliott (2014-15), Regan Smith (2013) and Danica Patrick (2012).

For the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, rookie Hailie Deegan took home the award. Deegan drove the No. 1 David Gilliland Racing Ford in her freshman season in a NASCAR national series and scored a career-best finish of seventh at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in August. She becomes the second rookie in a row to win the award after Zane Smith won it in 2020.