Stewart’s selection was announced Sunday during the NMPA’s annual Goody’s luncheon.
It marked the third time Stewart, 40, has received the honor. He was also named the recipient in 2002 and 2005, also after capturing the NASCAR Cup title.
Stewart went winless through the 26-race regular season before catching fire in the 10-race Chase, scoring a Chase-record five victories – at Chicago, Loudon, Martinsville, Texas and Homestead.
Seeded ninth in the 12-driver Chase format, Stewart quickly made his way into the points lead with the victories at Chicago and Loudon, the first two stops.
He ended the season tied in points with Carl Edwards and won the series’ top honor based on having the most victories.
“It’s an honor to have earned the 2011 NMPA Richard Petty Driver of the Year award,” Stewart said in a statement. “Everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing took the opportunity we had of being in the Chase and made the most of it. We took each race one at a time and never quit.
“It made all the difference. This award is as much theirs as it is mine.”
Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson won the driver of the year award the two previous seasons, and four of the last five.
Also receiving votes for this year’s award were Edwards, Penske Racing’s Brad Keselowski and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch.
The award is determined by a vote of the NMPA membership. It has been presented annually since 1969 and is named in honor of Richard Petty, NASCAR’s all-time leader in Cup victories.
Also at the luncheon, Goody’s officials announced the continuation of the company’s Pick A Powder program, which allows fans to cast votes for either Petty (Goody’s) or country music artist Trace Adkins (BC).
The “Like, Share, Change the World” campaign enables fans to help raise funds for both Victory Junction Gang Camp and the Wounded Warrior Project by visiting either Goody’s or BC Facebook pages and clicking “Like.” For each click. The two companies pledge a $1 donation per click to the respective charities, up to a combined $100,000.
Nearly 40,000 fans have participated in the program since its launch last November. It will run through Feb., 29..