Dale Earmhardt Jr. Named Most Popular Driver for 14th Straight Year

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is still the most popular driver in NASCAR.

The driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was awarded the NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award by the National Motorsports Press Association for the 14th consecutive season, extending the current record for longest streak by any driver in the sport. Only NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott has more with 16.

The winner of the award is entirely determined by a fan vote, and he said it was rather touching that he won the award given that he missed the final 18 races of the 2016 season after being diagnosed with symptoms of a concussion that stemmed from a wreck he suffered in June at Michigan International Speedway.

“This year was a difficult year for us and our team,” Earnhardt said. “You think you know just how incredible the NASCAR fans are and how supportive they are. You see them support the drivers through victories and through defeat. But when you go through recovery from an injury or maybe the loss of a loved one or something like that, you really get to the core of what’s great about our fan base.

“I want to thank the fans for all the support and all the well-wishes. It really motivated me to get healthy and it also motivated me to come back.

“I’m looking forward to next year.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."

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