For all 18 of Jimmie Johnson’s seasons in NASCAR’s Cup Series, he’s had one sponsor plastered on his car.
Now that sponsor is leaving.
Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday that Lowe’s, Johnson’s chief sponsor for all seven of his championships, will not be back with the team in 2019 or beyond. Johnson, 42, signed a contract extension last year that runs through 2020, meaning he will need a new primary sponsor for the first time in his storied career.
“With seven championships, this program has delivered far beyond what anyone could have imagined,” team owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. “It goes without saying that we will fully support Lowe’s and our program together in 2018 as we pursue another championship.”
Lowe’s said it was parting ways with Johnson to “invest in other strategic initiatives.”
Johnson is 26th in the standings, behind his three Hendrick teammates: Chase Elliott (16th), Alex Bowman (17th) and rookie William Byron (21st). In four races this season, he has finished 38th, 27th, 12th and 14th.
Johnson’s most recent Cup Series championship came in 2016, when he came from behind in the season finale at Homestead. Last season, he was eliminated in the third round of the playoffs and finished the season in 10th.
“I’ll always be grateful to Lowe’s for taking a chance on me and believing that I could win,” Johnson said. “I’m not sure where I’d be right now if they hadn’t committed to the No. 48 team. It’s hard to see them move on, but we’ve made history together and celebrated so much success on and off the track. There’s still a lot left to do in 2018.
“I have more to accomplish in this sport. I feel the best I’ve ever felt physically. I’m motivated. I’m focused on winning races and chasing more championships. Someone (a new sponsor) will be a big part of writing that story with us. I’m not going anywhere.”