Since 1956 the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award has recognized NASCAR's Sprint Cup most beloved driver. The coveted award won by champions such as Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip is as cherished as a championship trophy. It is still the only NASCAR award determined by the fans.


The contest once was decided by a poll among the drivers taken at the end of the season.  Later, only the press was able to vote for the winner.  Today, race fans from all over the world make the ultimate decision.  General Mills became involved with the award in 2001 and today the Wheaties FUEL® brand is the presenting sponsor.

Through online voting at fans across the world have their say in crowning NASCAR's most popular driver. Votes are received throughout the NASCAR season with the winner honored by the National Motorsports Press Association during the awards banquet in Las Vegas, NV.


  • Since the award's inception, 17 different NASCAR drivers have been crowned the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award.
  • Bill Elliott's 16 NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Awards are more than any other driver.
  • Bill Elliott, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. are the only drivers to win the award at least six times.
  • With 10 wins in a row, Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. hold the record for winning the award the most consecutive times.
  • The only drivers to win the award at least five consecutive times are Bill Elliott, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  • The first-ever repeat winner of the NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Award was Richard Petty.
  • The only drivers to win consecutive NASCAR NMPA Most Popular Driver Awards are Bill Elliott, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Richard Petty
  • The first driver to win the award two times in a row was Bobby Allison.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"You look at Richard Petty and Bill Elliott and I've always felt that if you win this award once then you are in good company. I'm real proud of it. The fans have hung in there and gave me one heck of a Christmas gift."

Darrell Waltrip
"I put the most popular driver, the Bill France Award of Excellence and my championship trophies; I put them all up together," echoed Darrell Waltrip. "It's the fan's voice. They are the ones that say, 'We like this guy, we like what he does,' and they vote for you. That means a lot to any of us."

Richard Petty
"Anytime you win a 'Most Popular' award it's great. It is something that you really don't work for, but rather it just happens," said the seven-time champion Richard Petty. "The Most Popular Driver Award makes the driver feel good because you’re not out there to be the most popular driver; you're out there to win races. You win it at the end of the season, and it's like a big bonus."



1956 - Curtis Turner
1957 - Fireball Roberts
1958 - Glen Wood
1959 - Junior Johnson
1960 - Rex White
1961 - Joe Weatherly
1962 - Richard Petty
1963 - Fred Lorenzen
1964 - Richard Petty
1965 - Fred Lorenzen
1966 - Darel Dieringer
1967 - Cale Yarborough
1968 - Richard Petty
1969 - Bobby Isaac
1970 - Richard Petty
1971 - Bobby Allison
1972 - Bobby Allison
1973 - Bobby Allison
1974 - Richard Petty
1975 - Richard Petty
1976 - Richard Petty
1977 - Richard Petty
1978 - Richard Petty
1979 - David Pearson
1980 - David Pearson
1981 - Bobby Allison
1982 - Bobby Allison
1983 - Bobby Allison
1984 - Bill Elliott
1985 - Bill Elliott
1986 - Bill Elliott
1987 - Bill Elliott
1988 - Bill Elliott
1989 - Darrell Waltrip
1990 - Darrell Waltrip
1991 - Bill Elliott
1992 - Bill Elliott
1993 - Bill Elliott
1994 - Bill Elliott
1995 - Bill Elliott
1996 - Bill Elliott
1997 - Bill Elliott
1998 - Bill Elliott
1999 - Bill Elliott
2000 - Bill Elliott
2001 - Dale Earnhardt
2002 - Bill Elliott
2003 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2004 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2005 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2006 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2007 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2008 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2009 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2010 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2011 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
2012 - Dale Earnhardt, Jr.