Junior Voted Most Popular
December 5, 2003 | 9:41 A.M. EST
The announcement was made Friday during the National Motorsports Press Association's (NMPA) Myers Brothers Awards Breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
While Earnhardt Jr. finished third in the top on-track honor in major league stock car racing, he led throughout the Most Popular Driver fan balloting for the highest off-track honor in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. The driver of the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet maintained a solid first place as voting closed mid-November for the only fan-based award in professional motorsports.
"It means a ton to see the support I've received from the fans," said Earnhardt Jr. "I know that no matter how bad things have been in my life that week or if I've struggled with the race that weekend, it's always helpful to hear the cheers when I walk across the stage during driver introductions."
Earnhardt Jr.'s win also marks the first time both a son and a father have received the Most Popular Driver honor. Racing legend Dale Earnhardt won the award posthumously in 2001.
"The NASCAR fans are a smart bunch. They choose their favorite drivers based on who that driver is as a person and what they represent," Earnhardt Jr. continued. "I try to remember that every day. This means a lot to me that the fans have supported me in such a big way. It was emotional for me to have to accept this award on behalf of my dad in 2001, but it will feel a lot better being able to accept the award this year."
From the fan votes to at-track enthusiasm, it's clear Earnhardt Jr. creates excitement on the racing circuit.
"I don't think anyone is surprised Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the Grands! Biscuits NMPA NASCAR Most Popular Driver," said journalist Kenny Bruce, president of the National Motorsports Press Association. "He came close to winning a year ago, and anyone who has listened while he was introduced at races would know that the fans really seem to love him. We are grateful to all of the NASCAR fans who were part of the voting process, and we feel they made a good choice."
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