Sunday, February 5 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Chase Elliott didn’t have the finish he wanted to 2022 despite five Cup Series victories this year, but he continued as a winner off the race track as well.

Elliott has won the Most Popular Driver award for the fifth consecutive year. Elliott’s father, Bill, won the award a record 16 times during a NASCAR Hall of Fame career. The Elliott family is synonymous with NASCAR with its deep history of drivers, engine builders and mechanics.

Prior to Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the award 15 consecutive times. The award is conducted by online voting.

“I came into a very fortunate situation,” Elliott said following the NASCAR awards ceremony Thursday at Nashville’s Music City Center.

“Dad had a great connection with the fans. Beyond him, I look at him as an extension of his career and my uncle’s and my grandfather and the path and the work ethic that they had to be able to get to where they did.”

The 2022 season was one where drivers had more interaction with fans as practice and qualifying returned for all weekends. In 2020 and 2021, many of the races featured weekends where the drivers were at the track for just one day, only to race with no practice nor qualifying. Many tracks saw their highest attendance in the last several years.

“When there is a good crowd and people show up like they did, which seemed like a lot this year, it brings a different level of excitement to what we do and I think that rubs off on everybody,” Elliott said.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver had a chance to win the title Nov. 6 at Phoenix but finished fourth in the standings after a crash in the finale when he was headed into Turn 1 and had contact from Ross Chastain, who was making a move from the inside at an area where drivers often spread out and use the apron to make the pass.

Elliott said after the race that he wasn’t sure what happened. He elaborated a little more Thursday.

“I wasn’t throwing a block at all,” Elliott said. “It never really crossed my mind. I was really trying to get to the end of the race. … On my end, it was not a crazy block or anything that was super aggressive.”

Winning the Xfinity most popular driver award was Noah Gragson; the most popular driver for NASCAR’s truck series was Hailie Deegan.

Top stories from FOX Sports:

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.


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