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The Legend Of NASCAR’s Secret Cup Series Champions’ Journal
Starting in 2011, the journal has been passed down from champion to champion, but what's inside has remained a secret.
Joey Logano further etched his name into stock car racing history by winning his second NASCAR Cup Series championship this year, joining 16 other drivers who’ve won multiple titles, but as his champagne-soaked uniform has barely had time to dry, there’s a secret prize headed his way more coveted than any trophy, monster lobster or grandfather clock one could ever hope to obtain: the journal of champions.
Like the Oval Office letter an outgoing president leaves for the incoming commander in chief, the legend of the Cup Series Champions’ journal is passed down each year from victor to victor, starting with Jimmie Johnson in 2010 after he won his fifth of seven championships. After three-time champ Tony Stewart dethroned Johnson in 2011, ending his incredible five-year title streak, Superman relinquished the now legendary pages to Smoke, who then did the same thing for Brad Keselowski in 2012.
And so, over the decade, several racing titans like Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have all been privileged enough to get their paws on the invaluable manuscript, putting pen to paper as they etched their thoughts, musings and anecdotes for future champs to read. Part of the fun, as Logano told to NBC Sports, is the mystery of what’s scribbled amongst the journal’s pages.
“That’s the best part about this is that nobody even really knows what it is,” revealed Logano. “Nobody knows … what’s written in it.”
Truth be told, perhaps no one would’ve ever known the secret existed had Johnson not posted a photo to social media of him handing the treasured diary down to Martin Truex Jr., who won the title in 2017. And with each new champion, as Kyle Larson explains, the journal’s near mythical stature in the sport only grows.
“It’s something that’s so special that you want to read it once when you get it and once again before I give it to the next guy,” the 2021 Cup Series Champion noted, according to NBC Sports. “It’s an extremely special book.”
“That was the thing that I was most excited about from winning the championship was to receive that [journal],” continued Larson. “I hope I can win other championships down the road to see what’s been passed on since me.”
While Yung Money looks to soak up every drop of championship knowledge contained within the cherished chronicles before he surrenders the journal to Logano at next month’s awards banquet, 2020 victor Chase Elliott takes more of a macro outlook about the annals.
“It makes you wish that somebody had started [the journal] back 30-plus, 40 years ago to just see what some of those guys would have to say or even when NASCAR was started,” stated Elliott. “I think it would be really cool.”
“On the flip side, I think about the guy or the girl who wins the championship in 2050 or 2060,” Elliott added. “How cool is that going to be to look back to see what Tony Stewart had to say or what Jimmie Johnson had to say, two legends of our time. Really cool tradition and proud to be a part of that.”
Upon the climax of the 2020 season, two-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Kyle Busch carefully tried to find the perfect words to leave for Elliott, professing to NBC Sports he channeled his inner scribe as he churned out draft after draft before landing on what he felt was best. A large part of that meant making sure Elliott knew he had officially stepped out from the shadow of his legendary father Bill Elliott who won the Cup Series Championship in 1988.
“I ran out of space,” said Busch. “I filled a whole page. I probably could have done a page and a half on the backside if I kept going. I tried to keep it to a page because it seems everybody was keeping it to a page, so I didn’t want to be the guy to screw it up.”
“I guess I just was kind of explaining like, ‘Hey, this is new territory for you, but this is a territory where you can not necessarily change the sport or change the world, but man, just live it up and enjoy it, and know that you’re Chase Elliott,” Busch added. “‘Now that you’re a champion, you’ve made it in this sport.’”
With Logano set to soon reacquire the hallowed journal for the second time, what intimate nuggets will he leave for future champions? Maybe musings on Ross Chastain’s mind-blowing video game wall-ride maneuver? What it was like to watch the fracas between Bubba Wallace and Larson? Or a couple shout-outs to all the “Hot Ass Wives” of NASCAR whose support is the difference between a driver’s glory and agony? Only time and future champions will tell, but one thing’s for certain when it comes to Sliced Bread’s handling of the prized possession.
“The first thing you think is, ‘Oh my God, I don’t want to be the guy to lose this,’” revealed Logano. “First thing, I put it in a safe.