First Most Popular Driver Award

12/6/2003

Dale Jr.'s popularity escalated with each crowning achievement, starting with NASCAR Nationwide Series championships in 1998 and 1999, Cup wins in 2000, and his improbable victory in the NASCAR All-Star event. Being the son of The Intimidator didn't hurt, nor did his alignment with the powerful and heavily marketed Budweiser brand. Three wins in 2001, two in 2002 and two more in 2003 solidified his place as a legitimate NASCAR Sprint Cup Series contender, and the momentum paid dividends as he was named NASCAR's 2003 Most Popular Driver. His winning the award ended the reign of Bill Elliott, who had earned the honor in 16 of the previous 19 years starting in 1984. It also was the beginning of a fairly remarkable consecutive streak of its own.