NASHVILLE — For the sixth straight year, Chase Elliot won the National Motorsports Press Ass’n Most Popular Driver Award as multiple special awards were handed out Thursday during NASCAR Awards ceremony proceedings.
“There’s always a chance for anything and also too, I think [NASCAR Cup Champion] Ryan [Blaney] has a great following as well and obviously him having a great year I thought he’d have a shot and also Kevin [Harvick] finishing up his career, a great career,” Elliott said. “Obviously, I know our fans pretty well and they are loyal folks. But I don’t ever take it for granted. I think it’s an easy thing to look at and think that I would, but I’m always grateful for the honor and to have the support we’ve had.
“This has always been, to me, an extension to me of my family’s place in the sport and the success it’s had over the years and the fans have been great to all of us, not just myself but to my entire family.”
Elliott, who is 10 short of the 16 Most Popular Driver Awards won by his father, Bill Elliott, appeared on stage with a sling on his left arm, indicative of recent offseason should surgery.
Justin Allgaier and Hailie Deegan were most popular drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity and Craftsman Truck Series, respectively.
• Ty Gibbs was named Sunoco Rookie of the Year in NASCAR’s top series.
“It’s been a great year, and we want to keep going,” said Gibbs, who scored 10 top-10 finishes with a best result of fourth in his first full-time season.
• Kurt Busch held back tears as he was recognized for a NASCAR career that spanned more than two decades.
“I want to say thank you to everyone in this room and everyone in this industry for supporting me for all these years,” said Busch, the 2004 series champion. “I want to thank my father, my mother and my brother Kyle — we always pushed each other to get to the next level.”
• NASCAR chairman Jim France presented the Bill France Award of Excellence to Rich Kramer, chairman, president and CEO of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
“I’m completely humbled by this acknowledgement,” Kramer said. “The team you see at the track each weekend—anything I’m acknowledged for is due to them…. Goodyear is long-term partner of NASCAR, I think, because we’re cut out of the same cloth.”
• Lesa France Kennedy, executive vice chair of NASCAR, announced Molly Moran, a volunteer at Comfort Zone Camp, as the winner of this year’s prestigious Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award.
Comfort Zone Camp is a non-profit bereavement organization that transforms the lives of children who have experienced the death of a parent, sibling, primary caregiver, or significant person.
• Ryan Vargas was honored as Comcast Community Champion of the Year for his work with FACES, the National Craniofacial Association. Diagnosed with craniosynostosis as a child, Vargas serves as a board member of FACES and earned a $60,000 donation from Comcast and Xfinity for the organization.
• Sherry Pollex, long-time partner of 2017 Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr., was honored with the NMPA Myers Brothers Award. Pollex lost a valiant, nine-year battle against ovarian cancer this year.