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Earnhardt Jr. sets popularity record

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No driver is more popular with fans these days than Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt established a record on Thursday when he was named NASCAR's most popular driver for the 11th straight time, breaking a tie with 16-time winner Bill Elliott for most consecutive years as the winner.

"I don't really keep track of the stats or the score, but Bill was a great driver and ambassador for the sport," Earnhardt said after he was presented NASCAR's NMPA Most Popular Driver Award at the annual Myers Brothers luncheon in Las Vegas.

"He represents the sport really well to this day, as does his son Chase, who's coming up and carrying on the family name. But I've always looked up to Bill as a driver, so it's pretty neat."

More than 1 million votes were cast for 39 drivers and Earnhardt received more than 700,000. Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon, finished second and third, followed by Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick.

"It humbles me deeply to know that you have so many fans in your corner each race weekend," Earnhardt said. "There are a lot of motivating factors in life that drive our race team to be the best we can, but none impact us more than the support of our race fans that they've shown over the years."
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