NASCAR’s Top 10 for Most Popular Driver Has Surprising Names

Chase Elliott

Getty Chase Elliott (front) & Kevin Harvick (rear) both have received votes for Most Popular Driver.

Voting for the Most Popular Driver Award presented by Hooters opened on November 8. Now NASCAR has revealed the top 10 Cup Series drivers getting votes each day from the fans.

The list — in no alphabetical order — features some expected names. Four-time winner Chase Elliott is obviously on the list as he aims to keep his streak alive. The list also includes championship runner-up Ross Chastain and 2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson.

The list also includes Christopher Bell, reigning champion Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Alex Bowman, and Ryan Blaney. These names all make sense for a variety of reasons, including their respective fanbases.

The remaining two names are where the list gets interesting. Both Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick made the top 10. Busch has divided NASCAR fans since the early days of his career. He has many vocal supporters, as well as many vocal critics.

Harvick, for comparison, has made jokes in the past about his “popularity.” For example, he said in a 2018 video for NASCAR and Fine Line Productions that he “put Keelan Harvick on the ballot. He’s got a way better chance of winning this than I do.” He also told Rutledge Wood ahead of the 2020 season that he “can be kind of a jerk sometimes.”

Blaney Has Taken a New Approach for 2022

Team Penske

GettyJoey Logano (left) & Ryan Blaney (right) race at Phoenix Raceway.

Taking votes away from Elliott is no simple matter. He’s a Cup Series champion, he has a sizable fanbase, and he’s the son of Bill Elliott. There is no easy path for any of the other Cup Series drivers to take the trophy away from him.

That being said, one driver is taking a new approach. Blaney has started releasing some short videos that would fit perfectly in any political campaign. One alleged that Elliott eats his chicken wings with a fork and knife. The second video alleged that the reigning Most Popular Driver “thinks that Parmesan Garlic wings are too spicy.”

Blaney has only released two videos so far, but there is an opportunity for more. Voting for Most Popular Driver does not close until November 30, one day before the NASCAR Champions Banquet, so there is plenty of time for Blaney to take one more “shot” at his fellow driver.

Chastain Made Waves at a Fitting Time

Regardless of where Chastain finishes in the final voting, there is no denying that his 2022 season featured a significant number of changes in terms of public opinion.

There were weeks when fans and drivers celebrated Chastain’s wins and his production on the track, especially considering how he had previously driven for underfunded teams across the national series.

In other weeks, however, Chastain had far fewer supporters. His aggressive driving style led to on-track conflicts with Denny Hamlin, Elliott, Austin Dillon, Busch, and multiple other drivers. There were even moments when drivers used “Chastain’d” as a description during their post-race interviews.

The conversation drastically changed on October 30, 2022. Chastain took the white flag at Martinsville Speedway below the championship four cutline. He was told he needed two spots to punch his ticket, so he went out and got them by riding the wall on the final turns and gaining enough spots to get himself into the championship four.

This video game move sparked criticism from Chastain’s fellow drivers. It also led to praise from fans, and it secured the top spot on SportsCenter’s list of plays. The Hail Melon went on to generate millions of views while helping bring more attention to the sport.

Will this wild move lead to Chastain dethroning Elliott? It’s unlikely based on recent history, but it certainly serves as a significant change in perception for the Florida native.

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