In 2019, Justin Allgaier and Ross Chastain made the Championship Rounds in the NASCAR Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, respectively. On Wednesday, the two were revealed as the Most Popular Drivers of their respective series.
The NASCAR Most Popular Driver Award winner is determined by fan vote. For both drivers, it is the first time they won the award, with Allgaier continuing a streak of JR Motorsports victories dating back to 2012 with Danica Patrick. Chastain is the first Chevrolet driver to be the Truck Most Popular Driver since John Hunter Nemechek in 2015.
Allgaier ended the 2019 Xfinity season fourth in points. After failing to win a race for much of the year, he qualified for the Championship Round with a victory in the penultimate race at ISM Raceway. The series veteran scored twenty-four top-ten finishes, tied for the third most, along with sixteen top fives.
Chastain had a busy year in 2019, racing 77 of 92 NASCAR national series races, including the full Truck schedule and all but one Cup Series event. After opening the season racing for Xfinity points, he switched to the Truck championship in June. Racing for Niece Motorsports, he led all Truck drivers in top tens (nineteen) and recorded three race wins as he finished runner-up to Matt Crafton in the title battle.
He will race for the 2020 Xfinity title with Kaulig Racing, with whom he won the Daytona International Speedway July race. It will be his fifth full-time season in NASCAR’s second tier; his best championship finish is tenth in 2018, during which he won his first Xfinity race.
“That is crazy,” Chastain said in a Twitter video. “We started out as a part-time effort and Al Niece stepped up, and we went full season and finished second in championship standings. This is a season I will never forget after all the ups and downs. For today to be my birthday and to get word from NASCAR that we won is absolutely incredible.”
The Cup Series Most Popular Driver will be announced Thursday during the awards show in Nashville. Hendrick Motorsports has dominated the award, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning every time from 2008 to his final season in 2017; he also won the 2003 to 2007 awards with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chase Elliott is the reigning Most Popular Driver.
Ryan Blaney, champion Kyle Busch, Matt DiBenedetto, and Martin Truex Jr. join Elliott in the top five voting for the 2019 edition.