Earnhardt Jr. still NASCAR's Most Popular

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. maintained his title as NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver on Thursday when he officially took the honor on Thursday during the NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) Myers Brothers Luncheon in Las Vegas. The 2012 honor was the 10th-consecutive for Earnhardt, who has won the award every year since 2003.

“It was an honor to hear that I won this year and am now tied with Bill (Elliott) for 10 in a row,” Earnhardt said. “I’ve enjoyed this award, because it’s a testament to my fans. I appreciate their loyalty and dedication.”

Winning the fan-voted award for 2012 tied Earnhardt with semi-retired driver Bill Elliott for most-consecutive Most Popular honors. Elliott’s streak of 10-straight ended with his 2000 award. He withdrew himself from consideration for the award in 2001. That year, the honor went to the late Dale Earnhardt. In all, Elliott leads the way with 16 Most Popular Driver Awards.

At the beginning of the season, all drivers eligible for Sprint Cup Series points were eligible for fan votes for the award. In September, the field was whittled to the top-10 vote-getters to that point: Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.

Each year, NASCAR fans show their passion for their favorite driver in the NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver voting,” NMPA President Rea White said. “This award is not only for the driver, but also for the fans as something they can claim as their own at the end of the season.”

Throughout the contest, more than 934,000 votes were cast. Fans were allowed to vote once daily.

– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR

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