CUP: Earnhardt Jr. Wins Popularity Vote

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had his second straight disappointing season on the track but he has not lost the adoration of his fans as Earnhardt Jr. won the voting for the NASCAR NMPA Hamburger Helper Most Popular Driver Award for the eighth consecutive time.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver was given the award during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon on Thursday afternoon at the Bellagio Ballroom in Las Vegas.

"I want to thank the fans. They've really meant everything to this sport," Earnhardt Jr. said.

Earnhardt Jr., winless in the last two years with career-worst points finishes of 25th in 2009 and 21st in 2010, is third all-time in the number of Most Popular Driver awards behind Bill Elliott (16) and Richard Petty (nine). Elliott also holds the record for most consecutive years winning the award with 10 from 1991-2000.

Fans voted throughout the regular season to determine 10 finalists. Voting throughout the Chase For The Sprint Cup determined the winner of the award, administered by the National Motorsports Press Association.

The other finalists, in alphabetical order, were Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.

The 36-year-old Earnhardt Jr. is one of only two father-son combinations to have won the award. Earnhardt Jr.’s father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., won it in 2001, the year he died in the Daytona 500. Petty’s father, Lee, won the award in its first two years in 1953 and 1954. • Sprint’s FanView hand-held scanners may be going away