Surprise (not really): Dale Jr. wins Sprint Cup Most Popular Driver award

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke a tie with Bill Elliott by earning his 11th consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Most Popular Driver award during today’s NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon in Las Vegas.

Earnhardt, who finished fifth in the 2013 Sprint Cup Series championship, has won the award every year since the 2003 season. The award is voted on by fans, and the National Motorsports Press Association later disclosed that Earnhardt received more than 700,000 votes out of the 1,ooo,000+ votes cast at MostPopularDriver.com.

“It humbles me deeply to know that you have so many fans in your corner each race weekend,” he said upon receiving the award. “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. We thank you for your devotion to NASCAR and we look forward to giving you a lot to be excited about in 2014.”

Earnhardt also used his brief time on the podium to hail his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pit crew, which earned Most Valuable Pit Crew of the Year honors earlier in the luncheon.

“That was really cool to see those guys get that [award],” said Earnhardt of his team, who according to NASCAR.com’s David Caraviello had an average stop time of 12.4 seconds despite having to use multiple rear tire changers over the year.

“They were awesome all season and I’m looking forward to next year.”

Lewis Hamilton enjoys epic trip to NASA’s Johnson Space Center (VIDEO)

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Lewis Hamilton went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston earlier this week, a thrill for the driver of a land-speed rocket for Mercedes AMG Petronas to then see actual ones.

In today’s pre-race coverage for the United States Grand Prix, NBCSN takes you behind the scenes of the trip in Houston. You can see that video, above.