Earnhardt Jr. voted most popular driver for 11th straight time
Las Vegas, NV (SportsNetwork.com) - For the record 11th year in a row, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won the vote as NASCAR's most popular driver by the fans.
Earnhardt received the 2013 NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award, which is presented by the National Motorsports Press Association, during the annual post-season Myers Brothers Luncheon on Thursday in Las Vegas. He surpassed Bill Elliott for most consecutive awards earned. Elliott continues to hold the overall mark, having been named the most popular driver in NASCAR's premier series 16 times.
"I don't really keep track of the stats or the score, but Bill was a great driver and ambassador for the sport," Earnhardt 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."
The final top-10 drivers in order of votes received were: Earnhardt, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.
More than 1 million votes were tallied for 39 eligible drivers from this year's first race (Daytona 500) to the last (Homestead). Earnhardt collected more than 700,000 votes.
"The support our fans have had for us has never wavered or never changed, so it's really a great thing and good feeling," Earnhardt noted. "It makes you want to go out there and work hard on the racetrack. I was really proud to go up there and accept (the award) today."
Earnhardt, 39, did not win a race this season but scored 10 top-five finishes, including five runner-up finishes, and 22 top-10s. He made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship for the third straight year, ending the season fifth in points.
NASCAR is in Las Vegas for its "Championship Week" celebration. Johnson will be honored for his sixth Sprint Cup title during Friday's season-ending awards banquet.
12/05 21:00:03 ET