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.”

Defending winner Takuma Sato to grace front of 2018 Indy 500 tickets

Photos: IMS/Chris Owens
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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has unveiled what the ticket for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 will look like.

The ticket features blue and red foil stamped with a sculptural embossing of last year’s 500 winner, Takuma Sato, in victory lane, holding the ceremonial winner’s bottle of milk. Sato became the first Japanese driver to win the Greatest Spectacle In Racing, driving for Andretti Autosport.

The ticket was revealed Thursday during a ceremony at the Indiana Statehouse that featured Sato, now with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, as well as Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Hulman & Company President and CEO Mark Miles, IMS President J. Douglas Boles and Hulman Motorsports Senior Vice President of Events Allison Melangton.

The Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil will be held Sunday, May 27 at IMS.

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