Chase Elliott wins NMPA Most Popular Driver Award

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Chase Elliott has won the National Motorsports Press Association’s Most Popular Driver Award.

Elliott received the award voted on by fans Thursday night at the Cup Awards banquet in Las Vegas.

Elliott, 23, is the first new winner of the award in 15 years. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won it every year from 2003 until his retirement from Cup racing after the 2017 season.

Earnhardt presented Elliott with the award.

“It definitely is an honor,” Elliott said. “As it got a little closer, I’m glad it worked out like it did. … Somebody asked me earlier about it, what would it mean? It’s always hard to say what it would mean when you don’t know. … I think beyond all that, just seeing the fire at the race track and how fired up people were to see me and my team do good throughout the season and all the right hats and T-shirts, that to me is probably the biggest piece of it.”

The Hendrick Motorsports driver follows his father, Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, who won the award 16 times (1984-88, 1991-2000 and 2002).

A driver not named Elliott or Earnhardt last won the award in 1990 (Darrell Waltrip).

Elliott earns the award after his third full-time season in Cup. He broke through with the first three wins of his Cup career. The first came at Watkins Glen International in August. He followed that with playoff victories at Dover and Kansas.

Elliott was eliminated from the playoffs after the Round of 8.