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USA Insider Race for the Championship

How Does Ryan Blaney Think He'll Fare against Buddy Chase Elliott in Race for NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award?

Blaney's the the newly crowned 2023 Cup Series champ, but Elliott's been reigning supreme in the hearts of fans for years.

By Andrew Woodin
Split of Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliot

Game just recognizes game.

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Rocking his “favorite wintertime sweater,” one that features a festive cartoon face of his good buddy Chase Elliott, a very jolly Ryan Blaney sat down for the final episode of his YouTube podcast Glass Case of Emotion to discuss all things surrounding his first-ever Cup title and, considering No. 12 is literally wearing Elliott’s mug on his shirt, the question veered into a different lane: NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver Award.

Despite his crowning achievement at Phoenix, Blaney recognizes he faces an uphill battle in terms of unseating Elliott, who’s vying to be the fan favorite for a sixth consecutive year. But he still wouldn't mind betting his buddy.

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“Yeah, there should be a bet for the most popular driver, but I don’t know if anyone’s gonna dethrone him [Elliott] from that though; I really don’t,” Blaney offered in the podcast episode with Kim Coon. “You know, his cheers run beyond the racetrack. All the way to the pool hall, man. Yeah, I don’t know. That’s going to be a tough one. I don’t know.”

Gianna Tulio and Ryan Blaney smile for a photo on top of the Empire State Building

According to NASCAR, in order to be eligible for the 2023 National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award Fan Vote:

• A driver must have declared NASCAR Cup Series points

• Driver must have been eligible for championship contention during the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series racing season.

• NMPA reserves the right to determine driver eligibility and matchups on a case-by-case basis.

After momentarily thinking about a potential bet for the championship brethren, Team Penske’s champion Ford wheelman reached the only logical conclusion.

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“The bet would have to be pretty sweet for me to want to make the bet,” revealed Blaney. “If I won, it’d have to be for him to do something wild, and if he won, it’d have to be pretty small for me.”

Knowing that Blaney and Elliott are both close allies in speed and bona fide pranksters – the two NASCAR Cup Series champions have even joked about executing the ultimate gag by staging a fight on the track – a curious Coon inquired further about what those conditions actually are.

“Oh, I have no idea,” started Blaney as he racked his brain. Then…

“Get a tattoo of my face … on a visible part of his body. On a calf… Yeah, [with] ‘Merry Offseason,’” Blaney chuckled, referring to the carton rendering of Elliott on his sweatshirt.

Looking to cast an “MPD” vote? Interested fans can log a vote for their favorite driver until 12 p.m. ET on November 29. Only one NASCAR-sanctioned driver is eligible for voting per ballot submission, and voting is limited to one (1) vote per person per unique email address per day.