Dale Earnhardt Jr. was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver for the 15th straight year. This was his final year racing in the sport’s top Monster Energy Cup series.
Earnhardt was announced the winner at Thursday night’s Monster Energy Cup Series Awards at the Wynn Las Vegas.
“I gotta thank the fans, because, without them, none of the opportunities I ever had in racing would have happened,” Earnhardt said in addressing the gathering. “None of the partnerships with corporate America. None of the opportunities to drive for some of the greatest race teams in the sport. None of the opportunities to do MTV cribs (laughter from the audience) or play night shows or TV cameos.
“All of those things happened because of that fan support, and so it always comes back to the fans, it really does. I gotta thank them for helping this train stay on the tracks and keep going all these years.”
Voting for the National Motorsports Press Association’s Most Popular Driver Award started Sept. 3 and closed Nov. 19.
Earnhardt also received the Bill France Award of Excellence by NASCAR Chairman Brian France at the ceremony. The award is not given every year, but instead only for extreme merit and extraordinary work, according to NASCAR.com.
“I had no idea,” Earnhardt said of receiving the recognition. “It’s an incredible feeling for someone to feel like you’re worth that acknowledgment. I’m grateful and it makes you inspired to continue to be an asset and help the sport grow.”