NASCAR Most Popular Driver voting underway

DARLINGTON, S.C. - Voting for the 2018 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Most Popular Driver Award presented by Hooters officially opens today, Wednesday, Sept. 5th at 12:00 noon ET. Fans can cast a vote for a single driver once per day at www.nascar.com/mostpopulardriver or on the NASCAR Mobile app. Votes shared by fans on Facebook and / or Twitter count double.

To be eligible, drivers must have declared series points and be in the Top 40 in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points by the start of the voting.

Voting closes for the NMPA Most Popular Driver Award on Tuesday, November 27 at noon ET

The 2018 NMPA Most Popular Driver will be announced during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards program Thursday, Nov. 29 at Wynn Las Vegas. NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM will provide coverage of this year's program.

The award was first presented to Curtis Turner in 1949 at the completion of NASCAR's inaugural season. It has been administered by the NMPA and presented annually by the organization since 1983 and remains the only major NASCAR award determined solely by fan vote.

Nineteen drivers have received the award at least once since the program began. NMPA Hall of Fame member and 1988 Cup Series champion Bill Elliott holds the record for most popular driver award wins with 16 coming in 1984 to 1988, 1991 to 2000 and 2002. Former Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the award 15 consecutive seasons from 2003 to 2017.

"With me retiring, there's a great opportunity for a lot of these guys, the younger guys particularly, who are more social media savvy," Earnhardt Jr. said in 2017. "There's a great opportunity for them to engage fans, introduce themselves to fans, but it really comes down to their relatability and the fan's ability to feel like they're the next door neighbor or the guy they're going to meet at the bar or run into at the grocery store. Whoever that guy is for them, that's who they'll pull for.

"...We touted our accessibility to the fans as something that sets us apart from other sports; it makes us unique and it's something we take a lot of pride in. The trophy itself is representative of that access. I've learned over the years it's not really just a popularity award or about one individual. It's really about the fan base that puts the effort in to not only vote for the award but to cheer for that driver and support him week in and week out."

--- NMPA ---