LAS VEGAS -- With NASCAR Cup Series champion Bill Elliott as his father, Chase Elliott has been groomed to compete at the sport's highest level since he was young.
The 23-year-old driver followed in his father's footsteps and just closed out his third full-time Cup Series season with Hendrick Motorsports.
Prior to capturing his first win of three this season at Watkins Glen International, Elliott claimed eight runner-up finishes -- the same number his father amassed before capturing his first Cup Series win.
Thirteen races after that eighth runner-up result, the younger Elliott made it to Victory Lane for the first time at Watkins Glen, joining an impressive list of drivers who scored their first career wins on road courses -- including the elder Elliott, who grabbed his first Cup win at Riverside International Raceway on Nov. 20, 1983.
And at Thursday evening's 2018 awards banquet, Elliott was named the National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver.
The award is yet another step that Elliott has shared with his father, who holds the record for all-time Most Popular Driver honors with 16.
“It’s definitely an honor," Elliott said on stage.
To make the honor even more special, Elliott's former teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., presented him the award. Earnhardt was named NASCAR's most popular driver for 15 consecutive seasons from 2003 to 2017.
"It's so cool that it's stayed between Elliott and Earnhardt for so long," Elliott said before joking to Earnhardt, "I am glad though that you quit a year before you broke Dad's record, so that's pretty cool, I'm pretty happy about that. We got it back in the right name."
Earnhardt said he looks forward to seeing how Elliott will impact the sport in the coming years.
“His heritage, his name connects to the history of the sport and his youth connects to the future of the sport," Earnhardt said. "He’s won races and he’s doing great on the racetrack. He’s going to be around a long time and he’s going to be a big part of this sport for years to come.”
Voting for most popular driver -- which is an award solely based on fan votes and presented by Hooters -- opened Sept. 5 and concluded Nov. 26, with fans able to vote for their favorite driver once per day.
Earlier this month, NASCAR released the top 10 vote-getters to that point, with Elliott and teammate Jimmie Johnson making the list.
In his acceptance speech, Elliott also recognized his fans for their integral part in claiming the honor.
"Just seeing the fire at the racetrack, and how fired up people were to see me and my team do good throughout the season," Elliott said. "That to me is probably the biggest piece of it.”