Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr.
Jimmie Johnson via Twitter

Jimmie Johnson reveals little-known tradition: NASCAR champion’s journal

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Jimmie Johnson pulled back the curtain Thursday on a little-known recent tradition among drivers who have worn the NASCAR premier series crown — a champion’s journal.

In a Thursday morning post to his Instagram account, Johnson said he had asked NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton about producing a mantle to be passed from champion to champion each year. At Helton’s suggestion, Johnson wrote, he started a journal in 2011 and passed it on to Tony Stewart, who succeeded him as series champ that season.

Johnson posted a picture of the keepsake book Thursday, open to his first entry, signed and dated December 2011. It reads: “It’s hard to believe something like this journal wasn’t done before. I thought it would be a great tradition to start between champions, and I’m honored to be the first entry. My thought is the outbound champion writes a letter to the inbound champion. From there, the champ keeps the book until the NASCAR awards ceremony and then passes it along.”

Only Johnson has won multiple championships during the journal’s existence. Since that first entry in 2011, the journal has been held by Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Johnson again, up to current champion Martin Truex Jr.

Truex is to be honored Thursday night at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas. But before being feted as a first-time title winner, Truex took ownership of the memento, where he’ll pen his letter to the 2018 champ in one year’s time.

Johnson has made his own history in the sport with seven premier series championships. With the gesture to create a personal, living document for the sport’s most talented drivers, he revealed that he’s also done his part to preserve and share that history with an exclusive club in stock-car racing.