Driver's Dozen: Earnhardt named Most Popular Driver for 12th straight year

Driver's Dozen: Earnhardt named Most Popular Driver for 12th straight year

LAS VEGAS -- On Thursday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. received the prestigious Myers Brothers Award from the National Motorsports Press Association.

A day later, he added yet another trophy to his case.

For the 12th consecutive year, NASCAR Sprint Cup fans voted Earnhardt the sport's most popular driver.

"I want to thank the National Motorsports Press Assocation and Sprint," Earnhardt said in accepting the Sprint NMPA Most Popular Driver Award, noting that it was fun to watch his Twitter timeline to see fans announcing that they had voted for him.

"I'd get up in the morning and my timeline is just full of these fans," Earnhardt noted. "That was probably the most humbling experience to see these people putting that effort in."

The award is determined solely by fan voting, and Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne were also among the top 10 vote-getters.

Earnhardt was presented with the award at the black-tie NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Friday evening.

It marks the longest streak of consecutive Most Popular Driver wins, just ahead of Bill Elliott's 10 in a row. Elliott won the award a total of 16 times, so Earnhardt is still a few behind the NASCAR Hall of Famer, but his fans continue to help his cause.

"To be able to connect to the fans like that this year and see their efforts, this is for them," Earnhardt said.

This year's award came after one of Earnhardt's best seasons of his entire career.

His four wins and 12 top-five finishes were his best totals since 2004, and he cracked the 20-top-10s plateau for the third consecutive season. That, along with the fact that it was No. 88 crew chief Steve Letarte's final year with Hendrick Motorsports, combined to make 2014 a season to remember for the Hendrick Motorsports driver.

"I can't thank you guys enough for what y'all do," Earnhardt said of his fans. "When we had our bad weeks, y'all picked us back up, and when we won, we all celebrated together. So, thank you guys."