There are a select few figures in every generation of NASCAR drivers that compel race fans in such a way that it earns them the distinction of being the Most Popular Driver in all of stock car racing. In the newest generation of Cup Series stars, it's clear who has the most widespread approval among those who fill the grandstands each week.
On Thursday at NASCAR Champion's Week, Chase Elliott was officially named the winner of NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award for 2021. The award, which is determined by a fan vote, has been presented annually nearly each year since NASCAR's first season in 1949.
Elliott's Most Popular Driver title is his fourth in a row, as he has won the award each year since 2018.
Elliott's being NASCAR's Most Popular Driver is something that runs in the family. His father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, won the award a record 16 times during his career, including 10 years in a row from 1991 to 2000. Dale Earnhardt Jr. holds the longest streak of any driver in the Most Popular Driver Award, as he won that honor every year from 2003 until his retirement in 2017.
After winning his first NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2020, Elliott made a valiant defense of his title by winning two races and earning a spot in the Championship 4 at the end of the season. Elliott would end up finishing fourth in the final standings with wins at Circuit of the Americas and Road America highlighting a year in which he also scored 15 top-5 and 21 top-10 finishes.
Elliott is in very select company as NASCAR's Most Popular Driver, as the award has been won by multiple Hall of Fame drivers. Winners of the award in NASCAR's modern era (1972 onwards) include Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip, and Dale Earnhardt.