Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has been chosen for the most popular award for the majority of the past decade. Not surprisingly, last December Junior was named NASCAR National Motorsports Press Association’s Most Popular Driver for the ninth straight year. Will he make it a tenth time?

I don’t believe it will happen, unless he miraculously pulls out a win to break his 138-race winless streak. I don’t have anything against the guy, and frankly he’s had to deal with a lot of pressure in trying to live up to his late father’s accomplishments, but I think it’s time that a new driver emerged as most popular and 2012 is likely to be the year that it will happen.

Junior’s last win was on June 15, 2008 at the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 in Michigan. His seventh place finish in The Chase at the end of the 2011 season was his best in six years. In 2010, he ranked 21st and his best finish was back in 2003 when he placed third.