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bobby allison chase elliott AP Photo/Chuck Burton ;AP Photo/Ralph Freso
AP Photo/Chuck Burton ; AP Photo/Ralph Freso

Each year, NASCAR fans get to vote for their favorite driver, and these ballots determine who gets the Most Popular Driver Award for that season. This is a pretty big achievement in itself, and it can really benefit that NASCAR driver’s career, especially when it comes to growing their fanbase.

Each year in November after the NASCAR playoffs, the National Motorsports Press Association presents the NMPA Most Popular Driver Award at the NASCAR Awards Banquet in Nashville, Tennessee. Hall of Famer Bill Elliott holds the record for the most awards in this category for a Cup Series driver with 16, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. has 15 and holds the longest consecutive year streak.

The award is also presented to drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Of course, ending up on victory lane often or becoming a series champion would greatly improve the chances of getting voted, but it wasn’t always the series championship winner that had the most fans.

In 2020, Chase Elliott won the award, marking his third consecutive year winning the title. It should be interesting to see if he can grab a fourth in 2021! Just below, we’ll check out which driver made the biggest impact on the race track, and their corresponding teams, as we look at the NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular Driver Award winners from 1949 to 2020.

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Winners of the Most Popular Driver Award

1949: Curtis Turner — Hubert Westmoreland, Frank Christian, Curtis Turner
1950: No award
1951: No award
1952: Lee Petty — Petty Enterprises
1953: Lee Petty — Petty Enterprises
1954: Lee Petty — Petty Enterprises
1955: Tim Flock — Carl Kiekhaefer, Hubert Westmoreland
1956: Curtis Turner — Charlie Schwam
1957: Fireball Roberts — Pete DePaolo, Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Dick Beaty
1958: Glen Wood — Wood Brothers Racing
1959: Jack Smith — Jack Smith
1960: Rex White — Beau Morgan, Scotty Cain, Rex White, L. D. Austin
1961: Joe Weatherly — Bud Moore Engineering, Doc White, Elmo Henderson
1962: Richard Petty — Petty Enterprises

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1963: Fred Lorenzen — Holman-Moody, Wood Brothers Racing, Stewart McKinney
1964: Richard Petty — Petty Enterprises
1965: Fred Lorenzen — Holman-Moody
1966: Darel Dieringer — Petty Enterprises, Toy Bolton, Bud Moore Engineering, Reid Shaw, Betty Lilly, Junior Johnson & Associates
1967: Cale Yarborough — Wood Brothers Racing, Neil Castles, Bud Moore Engineering
1968: Richard Petty — Petty Enterprises
1969: Bobby Isaac — Nord Krauskopf
1970: Bobby Allison — Bobby Allison, Mario Rossi
1971: Bobby Allison — Bobby Allison
1972: Bobby Allison — Richard Howard
1973: Bobby Allison — Bobby Allison
1974: Richard Petty — Petty Enterprises
1975: Richard Petty — Petty Enterprises
1976: Richard Petty — Petty Enterprises
1977: Richard Petty — Petty Enterprises
1978: Richard Petty — Petty Enterprises
1979: David Pearson — Wood Brothers Racing, Rod Osterlund
1980: Bobby Allison — Bud Moore Engineering
1981: Bobby Allison — Ranier-Lundy
1982: Bobby Allison — DiGard Motorsports
1983: Bobby Allison — DiGard Motorsports
1984: Bill Elliott — Melling Racing
1985: Bill Elliott — Melling Racing
1986: Bill Elliott — Melling Racing
1987: Bill Elliott — Melling Racing
1988: Bill Elliott — Melling Racing
1989: Darrell Waltrip — Hendrick Motorsports
1990: Darrell Waltrip — Hendrick Motorsports
1991: Bill Elliott — Melling Racing

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1992: Bill Elliott — Junior Johnson & Associates
1993: Bill Elliott — Junior Johnson & Associates
1994: Bill Elliott — Junior Johnson & Associates
1995: Bill Elliott — Bill Elliott Racing
1996: Bill Elliott — Bill Elliott Racing
1997: Bill Elliott — Bill Elliott Racing
1998: Bill Elliott — Bill Elliott Racing
1999: Bill Elliott — Bill Elliott Racing
2000: Bill Elliott — Bill Elliott Racing
2001: Dale Earnhardt Sr. — Richard Childress Racing
2002: Bill Elliott — Evernham Motorsports
2003: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2004: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2005: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2006: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2007: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
2008: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Hendrick Motorsports
2009: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Hendrick Motorsports
2010: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Hendrick Motorsports
2011: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Hendrick Motorsports
2012: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Hendrick Motorsports
2013: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Hendrick Motorsports

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2014: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Hendrick Motorsports
2015: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Hendrick Motorsports
2016: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Hendrick Motorsports
2017: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Hendrick Motorsports
2018: Chase Elliott — Hendrick Motorsports
2019: Chase Elliott — Hendrick Motorsports
2020: Chase Elliott — Hendrick Motorsports

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This post was originally published on March 10, 2021.

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