Chase Elliott has been named the National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Accepting the award Thursday night during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas, Elliott succeeds Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s streak of 15 consecutive MPD awards. Earnhardt retired last season and was not eligible, bringing predictions of Elliott being next in line for the award.
Earnhardt Jr. announced Elliott as the winner. Elliott also follows in the footsteps of his NASCAR Hall of Fame father by taking home of the honor. Prior to the start of Earnhardt Jr.’s streak in 2003, Bill Elliott won the award in 2002, which was his 16th overall.
The last time a driver not named Earnhardt (Dale Jr. or Dale Sr., who won the award posthumously in 2001) or Elliott won the MPD Award was 1990 with Darrell Waltrip.
The National Motorsports Press Association’s Most Popular Driver Award is determined solely by a fan vote each season.
“Definitely is an honor,” said Elliott. “Somebody asked me earlier about it, what it would mean? It’s always hard to say what it would mean when you don’t know, but definitely an honor. But I think beyond all that, just seeing the fire at the racetrack and how fired up people were to see me and my team do good throughout the season, and all the hats and t-shirts. That to me is probably the biggest piece of it.”
Elliott also won MPD in 2014 and ’15 while competing in the Xfinity Series.
Eligibility for the award requires a driver to compete full-time in one of the three NASCAR national series.
The Most Popular Driver Award has been presented annually since 1953.