The fans of the NASCAR Cup Series can now vote for their favorite driver. Voting has opened for the National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award, presented by Hooters, providing daily opportunities for people to weigh in.
The National Motorsports Press Association announced that voting has opened on Tuesday, November 9. Fans can weigh in from November 9 until December 1 at 12 p.m. ET. The NMPA will announce the winner on December 2 during the NASCAR Cup Series Awards. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the ceremony.
Chase Elliott is the current reigning Most Popular Driver. He won the award in 2018, 2019, and 2020. The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro is the first person to win the award since Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s unprecedented run from 2003-2017. Elliott’s father, Bill Elliott, holds the all-time record for Most Popular Driver Award wins after ending his career with 16.
The Winner Will Receive His Award in Nashville
Once the voting period comes to an end, the winning driver will receive his award in Music City. This ceremony will take place during the annual Champions Week, which will run from November 30 through December 2 and will culminate with the champions banquet.
NASCAR will highlight the Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and Cup Series champions, as well as several other notable drivers from the past season. The list also includes Rookie of the Year winners Ty Gibbs, Chandler Smith, and Chase Briscoe.
The trip to Nashville marks a return to Music City after a one-year absence due to COVID-19. The traditional banquet did not take place in 2020 when Elliott, Sheldon Creed, and Austin Cindric celebrated their respective championships. Instead, NASCAR aired a special broadcast on NBC Sports Network, which featured an opening performance by Chris Stapleton.
The celebration will return to Nashville and will likely feature the fan-favorite burnouts on the boulevard event where drivers climb into stock cars and do burnouts in the city streets. The 2019 version took place the night before the awards banquet in Nashville and highlighted a memorable first trip to the city.
1 Driver Was Absent From the Most Popular Driver Ballot
In order to be eligible for the NMPA Most Popular Driver Award, the driver must have declared for Cup Series points. The driver must have also finished in the top 32 by the start of the voting period.
There are several drivers among the list of eligible nominees, such as 2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson, Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and William Byron. Anthony Alfredo also makes an appearance to cap off his rookie season. However, there was one driver absent from the initial ballot, which surprised several people.
When NASCAR announced that voting was open, several fans on Twitter responded and pointed out that Kurt Busch was not among the list of drivers. The driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet capped off his final season with Chip Ganassi Racing by winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway, reaching the playoffs, and finishing 11 in the standings. However, he was not on the initial ballot.
NASCAR will likely add Busch to the ballot in the coming hours, but his initial absence created frustration among many potential voters.