NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - DECEMBER 01: The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship driver, Kyle Larson poses for photos on the Rooftop Terrace of the Twelve Thirty Club on December 01, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

Kyle Larson eager for Champion’s Journal: ‘Best-kept secret in our sport’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A tradition started by Jimmie Johnson in 2011, Kyle Larson will be the latest NASCAR Cup Series champion to receive the Champion’s Journal.

At the suggestion of NASCAR’s vice chairman, Mike Helton, Johnson penned the first note in the small brown leather book in December 2011 after winning the 2010 title, passing it to 2011 champion Tony Stewart. His fifth championship at the time, Johnson, now a seven-time champion, wanted a mantle for the exclusive club of NASCAR’s most talented competitors.

Since then, six other drivers have had the privilege to receive the journal for a year – Brad Keselowski (2012), Kevin Harvick (2014), Kyle Busch (2015, ’19), Martin Truex Jr. (2017), Joey Logano (2018) and Chase Elliott (2020).

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Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Elliott, is set to pass it along to the No. 5 driver. But the contents of the book remain untold.

“I feel like it’s the best-kept secret in our sport,” Larson said during Champion’s Week in Nashville. “I’m really looking forward to receiving that and getting to read what other drivers have written in it. I’m just excited to see the things people say. I was talking to Brad Keselowski about it [Wednesday] and he said he didn’t even remember what he wrote in it. It’ll just be neat to see the stories and see what they had to say.”

Elliott noted he plans on presenting the journal to Larson during the Hendrick Motorsports holiday celebration later in December and is still putting thought into what words he will leave Larson to carry on into 2022.

“It’s a great honor to have seen that and read what’s in it and be able to pass that along,” Elliott said. “… I wish they had started it sooner. Having been a champion and having a chance to read it, I just wish it went back further. I think it would be incredible.

“I can’t wait for the champ in 2050 or 2040 or whatever to get that and read what some of the greats have written like Tony and Jimmie. That’s gonna be a great honor for people to have it. It’s just going to get more special every year.”

While the message Elliott will eventually compose remains unwritten, one thing is for sure – we’ll never know.

“I haven’t decided exactly how I want to angle it, but even if I had, I probably wouldn’t share,” Elliott said. “That’s kind of the whole point of the book is for no one else to know it. Whatever I decide, I’ll make a personal decision and try to make it special.”

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Larson awaits his turn to lay eyes on compositions by champions before him, leaving him full of anticipation for what he’ll see.

“I’m assuming, like I said I haven’t seen it, but I’m assuming it’s just a lot of respect, I think, between all the drivers,” Larson said. “Even the ones that don’t get along.”