The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro has added another trophy to his collection. Chase Elliott has won NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver award for the Cup Series while Hailie Deegan and Justin Allgaier won for the Truck Series and Xfinity Series, respectively.
The 2020 Cup Series champion received the honor during the NASCAR Awards banquet in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, December 1. 2021 marks the fourth consecutive year that Elliott locked up the award, putting him on the road to chasing down Dale Earnhardt Jr. (15-time winner) and his father, Bill Elliott (16-time winner).
Elliott first won the award in 2018, the same year that he won his first three career Cup Series races. He won again in 2019 and 2020 before locking up his fourth trophy in 2021. With this latest victory, Elliott breaks a tie that he held with Lee Petty, who won Most Popular Driver in 1952, 1953, and 1954.
Elliott also won the award the same day that one of his key partners agreed to extend their deal with him. Hooters signed a three-year extension with Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports, keeping the restaurant chain on the No. 9 Chevrolet for three races a year through 2024.
Only 4 Other Drivers Have Won the Award Since 1984
First introduced in 1949, the Most Popular Driver Award has gone to several winners. Many have locked up the honor multiple times. Richard Petty and Bobby Allison each won eight times while Fred Lorenzen and Curtis Turner each won twice.
While several drivers have won the prestigious award, only a select few have done so since 1984. The list includes Bill Elliott, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Darrell Waltrip, and Chase Elliott.
The elder Elliott won his first Most Popular Driver Award in 1984 and then he added victories in 1985-1988. Waltrip broke up the streak with his wins in 1989 and 1990, but Elliott won every year from 1991 until 2000.
Earnhardt was awarded Most Popular Driver posthumously in 2001 and then Elliott won once more in 2002. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville’s streak came to an end at 16 victories as he withdrew his name from future ballots.
The younger Earnhardt kicked off his own streak of wins in 2003. He locked up Most Popular Driver every year until 2017 when he retired from the NASCAR Cup Series and opened the door for the younger Elliott to begin winning.
A Rising Star Won Most Popular Driver in the Truck Series
While Elliott continued his run as the Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, a new driver took the honor in the Camping World Truck Series. The fans voted rookie Hailie Deegan as the winner, capping off a year in which she made history by becoming the first female driver to secure a top-10 finish outside of Daytona International Speedway.
Deegan continued the streak of first-time winners, dating back to the 2009 season when Ricky Carmichael won Most Popular Driver. She joined Zane Smith (2020), Ross Chastain (2019), Noah Gragson (2018), Chase Briscoe (2017), Tyler Reddick (2016), John Hunter Nemechek (2015), Ryan Blaney (2014), Ty Dillon (2013), Nelson Piquet Jr. (2012), Austin Dillon (2011), and Narain Karthikeyan (2010).
The Xfinity Series Most Popular Driver Award went to a perennial championship contender. Justin Allgaier, the driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, won for the third consecutive year. This victory put him in a tie with Brad Keselowski (2008-2010) and Elliott Sadler (2016-2018) as drivers who won the award three consecutive times.