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Earnhardt Jr. voted most popular driver for 10th time

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is once again a winner with the NASCAR fans.

As expected, Earnhardt Jr. won NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award for 2012. Earnhardt Jr. received the award, which is presented by the National Motorsports Press Association, during the annual post-season Myers Brothers Luncheon on Thursday in Las Vegas.

It's the 10th consecutive year that Earnhardt Jr. has been named the most popular driver in NASCAR's premier series. It tied him with Bill Elliott as the only drivers who have won the award 10 years in a row. Elliott received the honor a record 16 times overall.

"It was an honor to hear that I won this year and am now tied with Bill (Elliott) for 10 in a row," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I've enjoyed this award because it's a testament to my fans. I appreciate their loyalty and dedication. It was great to get back in victory lane this year for my team and for my fans. I'm looking forward to a successful 2013, and I am proud to accept this award on behalf of all the fans that voted."

Earnhardt Jr., 38, finished 12th in this year's Sprint Cup Series point standings. In June, Earnhardt Jr. ended his four-year, 143-race winless streak at Michigan. He also led in points for the first time since Sept. 2004.

Earnhardt Jr. made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship for the second straight year, but the Hendrick Motorsports driver was forced to sit out the Chase races in Charlotte and Kansas after being diagnosed with a concussion days after he was involved in a multi-car wreck on the final lap of the Oct. 7 race at Talladega. He also sustained a concussion during a crash while participating in the Aug. 29 Goodyear tire test at Kansas.

More than 934,000 fan votes for the most popular driver award were cast this season. After fans voted from February to September, the top-10 drivers who earned the most votes were reset to zero.

Jeff Gordon finished second in the voting, followed by Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Bobby Labonte completed the top-10.

NASCAR is in Las Vegas for its "Championship Week" celebration. Brad Keselowski will be honored as this year's Sprint Cup champion during Friday's season-ending awards banquet.