Retiring NASCAR TV analyst and Hall of Fame driver Darrell Waltrip and current Cup star Chase Elliott were honored during Thursday night’s Cup Series Awards in Nashville, Tenn.
Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, was named winner of the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association most popular driver award presented by Hooters. The award is the second consecutive of his five-year Cup Series career.
The 24-year old native of Dawsonville, Ga. was named through 39 percent of the votes cast by fans. His father, 1988 Cup Series champion Bill Elliott, won the NMPA Most Popular Driver Award 16 times between 1984 and 2002.
Completing the top-five in this year’s voting were 2019 Cup series champion Kyle Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, Martin Truex Jr., and Ryan Blaney.
“I’m honored to have two. Last year, I was honored to have one,” Elliott said. “You try to learn things here and there. And as I have told several people, it is really more than a trophy or an award, it is about the people at the race track.
“Some of them are here tonight and I really enjoy seeing them wear your hat or t-shirt.”
The Most Popular Driver Award is the only major NASCAR award determined solely by fan vote. It has been presented annually since 1953; the recipients were originally determined by a poll of competitors. It became a fan-driven program in 1984 under the guidance of the NMPA.
Also this week, Justin Allgaier won most popular driver in the Xfinity Series and Ross Chastain earned the award in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
Myers Brothers Award
On Thursday night, Waltrip was named the recipient of the 2019 NMPA Myers Brothers Award. The award is named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers and presented annually to recognize individuals and/or groups who have provided outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing.
Over a 30-year period, Waltrip became one of the greatest stars in NASCAR history, logging 84 career victories, including the 1989 Daytona 500. All three of Waltrip’s Cup series titles in 1981, 1982 and 1985 came while driving Chevrolets for driver-turned-team owner Junior Johnson.
Upon his retirement from driving in 2000, Waltrip worked as analyst and race commentator for FOX Sports NASCAR telecasts from 2001 to until retiring from the booth following Fox’s 2019 season.
“I had no idea, this is a huge surprise,” Waltrip said. “To tell you the truth, Stevie (his wife) and I almost didn’t come. That would have been really embarrassing.
“This is a thrill. What a thrill. I thought retirement, kind of, sucked. But maybe with these things before me, I will enjoy it a little more. I am really humbled for this award. I am really appreciative, thank you so much.”
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