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Who is NASCAR's most popular driver? A familiar name wins again at annual awards banquet.

Shane Connuck, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Chase Elliott is NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver — again.

It’s the sixth straight year that Elliott, the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy, has won this honor. But this might have been his most unlikely yet.

Elliott missed six races due to a leg injury and was briefly suspended for his role in a wreck at Charlotte. The fan-favorite driver, who won the 2020 Cup title, didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

But fans still voted Elliott as their favorite driver — over champion Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson.

“This award has always, in my eyes, been a reflection and an extension of my family’s place in the sport,” said Elliott, whose father, Bill, won the award a record 16 times. “I recognize my spot in line and recognize what they’ve done. And the reason why it’s special is because of the fans and how supportive they have been to my entire family and myself included.”

Elliott said that he “would love to forget” most of the competition aspects of this past season. He missed those six races early in the season after undergoing surgery for a fractured tibia — which he suffered in a snowboarding accident in Colorado.

 

Elliott began his news conference with reporters speaking about Blaney’s following and the popularity of retiring driver Kevin Harvick. He spoke about how grateful he is to be honored and reiterated how he feels winning it is an extension of his family.

“I don’t wake up in the morning and be like, ‘Oh yeah, you’re NASCAR’s most popular driver, you need to act a certain way,’ “ Elliott said. “I certainly respect the honor and don’t take it lightly. I understand my spot in line of my family’s heritage in racing, and it’s always been an extension of their presence here in NASCAR.”

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Long before Ryan Blaney became this year’s NASCAR Cup Series champion, he just wanted to be like his dad.

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