LAS VEGAS – Make it a baker’s dozen for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS took home the Sprint NMPA Most Popular Driver Award for a 13th consecutive time Friday evening in Las Vegas.
He was presented with the award at the black-tie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards held at Wynn Las Vegas.
"You never expect to win this award until your name is called. Every year, I’m humbled," Earnhardt said as he began his speech. "This award is for Junior Nation. Thanks for the votes and we’ll see you next year."
The award is determined solely by fan voting, and Earnhardt said he appreciated seeing tweets directed at him letting him know when votes had been cast.
His consecutive wins streak extended the longest in the award’s history – Bill Elliott won the honor 10 times in a row. But Earnhardt is still three wins behind the NASCAR Hall of Famer’s 16 overall most popular titles.
This year’s award came after one of the best seasons of Earnhardt’s career.
On the heels of last season’s four wins, the driver found Victory Lane three times in 2015. His 16 top-five finishes matched his 2004 total for the most in his career and were good for third among all drivers in the series.
His 22 top-10s were also tied for the most in a single season in his career, extending his streak to four straight seasons with at least 20 top-10 finishes. That total was tied for fourth in the series for 2015 alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and one ahead of fellow teammate Jeff Gordon.
In his first season with crew chief Greg Ives, Earnhardt said he was proud of how the No. 88 team battled to the wire in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and was “inches” from a run for a championship.
“I really think that we’ve got a lot to improve on, and we will, and we’ll get even better,” he said.