Thanks to a to a third-place run last weekend at Watkins Glen, Jimmie Johnson moved into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points lead for the first time this year. But as Johnson well knows, leading the points during the regular season comes with no tangible reward.
Can't a dude get a "Regular-Season Champ" hat or something?
"I've always felt like we should have something," Johnson said Friday at Michigan. "It is a huge accomplishment to win the regular season points championship. I don't even think you get a sticker for it or anything. I feel like it would be nice.
"I'm sure the monetary side would be amazing. But we would all be happy with a little $5 trophy that you won the regular season championship. So, a T-shirt would be nice. Anything!"
Johnson was (somewhat) joking about receiving a T-shirt and miniature trophy, but he was serious when he threw out some possible suggestions he thinks NASCAR should look at incorporating to reward a team for its effort.
"You could even work up an argument that there's some type of bonus points that could be awarded to the regular season champion that carries over or something in the seeding process or pit road pick," Johnson said. "I don't know. You dream up something there that would be nice for the champion."
Although it doesn't have the same effect as having the preferred spot on pit road, Johnson does feel there is a benefit to be gained by being in the position he's in. For him, having a bullseye on his back is the ideal way to get used to the intense pressure that comes with competing for the championship.
"I feel we enter the Chase better prepared by leading the points late in the (regular) season," Johnson said. "... It's not the same pressure as the Chase, but the points leader is the points leader. When you look at all the events we've had and what's gone on, there is a lot of prestige involved with it and it means that you're running well.
"We're glad to be there and hopefully we can stay on top, and ideally, pull away and continue to gain more points than anyone else and be in that mindset entering the Chase."