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Patrick and Piquet most popular in Nationwide and Trucks
Danica is popular
Danica Patrick made NASCAR history with her 10th-place finish in the Nationwide Series standings, the highest finish for a female in any of the stock car racing organization's three national series.

The trophy she received Monday night might be a little more special. Patrick won the most popular driver award for the series in voting conducted online.  In some ways, Patrick should win the award. She has more than 670,000 Twitter followers and drove for the most popular team, JR Motorsports, in the series.

Still, it felt good for Patrick, 30-year-old former IndyCar driver. She spent two years running 10 races in the series—and therefore ineligible for the award—before moving to NASCAR full time in 2012.

Patrick has a strong fan base, but she is a somewhat polarizing figure. Many fans think she does not deserving of her ride. But her legions of fans voted online, as proven with the honor announced Friday night at the postseason awards banquet at the Loews Miami Beach hotel.

"If it would have gone to somebody else, there would have definitely been an element of thought that I need to spend more time here (to be accepted), I need to be here longer and I need to prove to them that this is what I care about," Patrick said.

"I care about it tremendously and it would have just been something I would have needed to prove it to them more (if I didn't win)."

The four other finalists were the top three finishers in the series standings—Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (58,000 Twitter followers), Elliott Sadler (125,000 followers) and Austin Dillon (71,000)—as well as Johanna Long (23,000).

"There are a lot of people in NASCAR that have a lot of fan favorites, and I'm new and so I don't in any way think that this one is a given," said Patrick, who will compete primarily in the Sprint Cup Series next year.

Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet Jr. won the award for the Camping World Truck Series. Sporting news

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