NASCAR America: Kyle Petty on why replacing Lowe’s could be difficult for Jimmie Johnson


NASCAR’s trio of seven-time champions have built vast cache with the companies they represented.

Richard Petty became synonymous with STP. Dale Earnhardt’s connection to the black GM Goodwrench paint scheme was iconic. And Jimmie Johnson has become a fixture as the polished spokesman for Lowe’s the past 17 seasons.

That will change next year as Lowe’s announced Wednesday that the 2018 season will be its last as the primary sponsor of Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet. With a Hendrick contract that runs through 2020, Johnson and the team now will be hunting significant sponsorship for the first time since his rookie season in 2002.

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On Wednesday’s NASCAR America (video above), analyst Kyle Petty explained why that might be difficult.

“That’s going to be tough I think,” Petty said. “Richard Petty was an STP driver. I can’t imagine Richard Petty ever being anything but STP. Even though Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove that Wranger car, I remember him as the Goodwrench guy. That’s his brand.

“Jimmie Johnson has tied his brand to Lowe’s. It is Jimmie Johnson, it is Lowe’s, it is Chad Knaus, it is Hendrick Motorsports. If I come in and sponsor the last couple of years of his career, am I just going to be the answer to a trivia question at some time? ‘Who sponsored Jimmie Johnson the last year of his career?’, that type of thing.”

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Johnson, 42, does offer a resume that includes 83 victories (tied with Cale Yarborough for sixth all time) and the record-tying seven titles. And a major selling point could be the history-making possibility of an eighth championship awaiting future sponsors.

But Petty said that success also could work against the search.

“When you’ve had success with a sponsor that they have had, when you’ve had the success of championships and race wins, and you’ve built that brand, it’s tough to rebrand yourself at 40, 41, 42, 43 as a driver,” Petty said. “I think Hendrick, even though (Johnson) is a seven-time champion, even though he can win races, it’s a little bit of a battle. It’s going to take the right company to come in and say, ‘I’ll take this project on.’ ”

NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto grateful for sponsors found via Twitter campaign

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After an eventful Tuesday on social media for Matt DiBenedetto, the GoFas Racing driver met with NASCAR America’s Marty Snider to discuss how effective a call for sponsor help turned out to be.

A video DiBenedetto recorded and posted on Twitter quickly resulted in pledges of $5,000 from fellow Cup drivers Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, as well as Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip. DiBenedetto told Snider another big name in the sport “silently” chipped in as well.

Late Wednesday, GoFas Racing announced the following supporters for the team this weekend: Zynga Poker, Enlisted Nine Fight Company, Pit Stops for Hope, Denny Hamlin (Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown), Kevin Harvick (KHI Management), and Darrell Waltrip (Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship).

“You never know the power of social media, man, it’s impressed me many times and probably never more than this one,” DiBenedetto said. “It was just an on the fly thing, we didn’t have any plan for it.”

The 26-year-old driver made clear that the team and his job were not in jeopardy, but that it’s very hard for a team to be unsponsored for any race.

“Obviously, a little more came out of it than anticipated,” DiBenedetto said. “It turned into an emotional day for me, to be honest.”

The second-year driver for GoFas Racing was awestruck by the support from Hamlin, Harvick and Waltrip.

“Those are people, dude, that I looked up to since I was a kid watching, those are some of my heroes,” DiBenedetto said. “For them to think that much of me and want me to be a big part of this sport, knowing I’m a young guy … I’m not kidding … I rode home in my truck like in silence because I was just floored.”

Watch the above video for more from DiBenedetto and NASCAR America’s analysts.

Valvoline, Hendrick Motorsports extend relationship through 2022

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Long-time NASCAR sponsor Valvoline has extended its relationship with Hendrick Motorsports in a five-year deal and expanded into a primary sponsor role.

The company will be a sponsor on Alex Bowman‘s No. 88 Chevrolet for two races in each year of the deal.

Valvoline will continue as an associate sponsor on all four Hendrick cars.

Valvoline was last a primary sponsor for Hendrick in 2015 when it was on the No. 88 in the Southern 500.

The company was a primary sponsor for Richard Childress Racing the last two seasons. It was on the No. 27 driven by Paul Menard in seven races.

The last time a car with Valvoline as a primary sponsor went to victory lane in the Cup Series was in the 2002 fall race at Rockingham. Johnny Benson won in the No. 10 Pontiac owned by Nelson Bowers.

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Love’s Travel Stops returns as Front Row Motorsports sponsor

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Front Row Motorsports and Love’s Travel Stops have extended their relationship into a sixth year, the team announced Monday.

The company will sponsor the No. 34 Ford of Michael McDowell in 18 races, including the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

It will also be on the No. 34 for both races at Texas Motor Speedway, the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

“We look forward to kicking off another great season in Daytona with Front Row Motorsports and welcoming our new driver of the No. 34 Love’s Ford, Michael McDowell,” said Dave Frankenfield, vice president of marketing for Love’s Travel Stops, in a press release. “(Team owner) Bob Jenkins and (General Manager) Jerry Freeze continue to provide great value and flexibility in our partnership while working tirelessly to put a competitive car on the track each week. They also help create a unique race-day experience that allows our customers and employees to be a part of the Love’s race team.”

The team also announced McDowell, entering his first year with FRM, will be paired with crew chief Derrick Finley. The veteran crew chief has been with the team since 2011 and worked with David Ragan last season.

UPDATE: FRM announced Tuesday that McDowell’s long-time sponsor, K-Love, will be on the No. 34 in five races: Phoenix (March), Richmond International Raceway (April), Daytona International Speedway (July), Watkins Glen International (August) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (September).

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BRANDT returns for third year with JR Motorsports in Xfinity Series

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BRANDT Professional Agriculture will return as a sponsor for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Wednesday.

The company will be a primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier‘s No. 7 Chevrolet in 19 races and an associate sponsor of Allgaier and his three teammates the rest of the season.

Brandt has sponsored Allgaier for eight years, including the last three with JR Motorsports.

Allgaier is a native of Riverton, Illinois, which is 15 miles from Springfield, Illinois, where the company is headquartered.

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Allgaier, 31, is coming off his second season that ended with him in the Championship 4. He earned two wins, 10 top five and 17 top-10 finishes. He also led a series-high 495 laps among Xfinity regulars.

He will be teammates with Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick and Michael Annett this year.

The Xfinity season begins Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway.

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