With the conclusion of the NASCAR season, comes the annual NASCAR Awards Banquet and all of the accolades and awards associated with them. One of the most prestigious awards, for drivers, is the Most Popular Driver Award.
To the surprise of literally nobody, Chase Elliott was awarded the NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular Driver award for the fifth consecutive season. Elliott, who drives for Hendrick Motorsports, put together a five-win season in 2022, finishing fourth in points.
While still impressive, the streak of five consecutive Most Popular Driver Award victories is a minor landmark compared to the 15 straight seasons in which Dale Earnhardt Jr. secured the award from 2003 to 2017.
Chase’s father, Bill Elliott, was a 16-time winner of the Most Popular Driver Award, securing the honor from 1984 to 1988, 1991 to 2000, and in 2002. Richard Petty won the award 10 times, while Bobby Allison took it home on seven occasions.
Well, there's no surprise here: @chaseelliott has captured his fifth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series 'Most Popular Driver' award.
— TobyChristie.com (@TobyChristieCom) December 2, 2022
In his final season competing full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Noah Gragson has captured the series’ Most Popular Driver Award, marking the first time he’s won the fan-based award in the second-tier series.
Driving for JR Motorsports, Gragson had a breakout year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, delivering a series-high eight victories in 2022, to finish runner-up in the series’ championship fight to Ty Gibbs.
By virtue of winning the award, Gragson continues a long-standing streak of JR Motorsports drivers that have won the Most Popular Driver Award, marking the 11th consecutive season that a current JRM driver was voted the most popular.
#JRNation continues to show up for @DaleJr, year after year…@NoahGragson has secured the 2022 NXS Most Popular Driver Award, marking the 11th straight season that a @JRMotorsports driver has won the fan-decided award. #NASCAR | #SrigleyStats Presented by @gearupgame_on pic.twitter.com/rszD9kQ8Uu
— Joseph Srigley (@joe_srigley) December 2, 2022
If Gragson hopes to win the Most Popular Driver Award in 2023, he’ll have to defeat the goliath of the award, Chase Elliott, who has won it in each of the last five seasons.
Finally, Hailie Deegan – a second-year driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – has secured her second consecutive NASCAR Truck Series Most Popular Driver Award, becoming only the second driver in series history to win the award in back-to-back years.
The 2022 NASCAR Truck Series season was a struggle for Hailie Deegan, despite scoring a career-best sixth-place result at Talladega Superspeedway and a pair of top-10 finishes, recording a finish outside the top-20.
As of December 1, there haven’t been any announced plans for Hailie Deegan, so it is unclear if she’ll look to tie Johnny Benson Jr’s record of three NASCAR Truck Series Most Popular Driver Award wins in 2023, or if she’ll compete for the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ version of the award.