Johnson signs extension with Hendrick

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Jimmie Johnson and Lowe’s have each signed 2-year contract extensions though 2017, Hendrick Motorsports announced Monday. The team also announced that crew chief Chad Knaus’ contract runs through 2018.

The extensions, which were expected, keep one of NASCAR’s most successful groups together. Johnson, who turns 40 Thursday, and Knaus have been paired together since 2002 and combined to win six Sprint Cup championships. Johnson ranks eighth on the all-time Sprint Cup victory list with 74 – two behind Dale Earnhardt. Lowe’s has been with the team since it was formed in 2001 when Johnson ran three Cup races.

Johnson told the Associated Press that while he prefers longer-term deals, the length of this deal was tied more with a deal that all parties could agree upon. Johnson stressed that he’s focused on racing beyond 2017.

“It’s wild, I’m 40 this year, Jeff (Gordon) is retiring at 43 and there’s a lot of guys in their 40s who are all starting to plan the next two or three years,” Johnson told the Associated Press. “I guess it’s out there someday for me, but it’s not on my radar yet. I would assume after ’17, I’ll have to start planning at that point. But full steam ahead right now.”

 Johnson enters the Chase for the Sprint Cup as the No. 1 seed. He’s won four races this season.

The AP also reported that as part of the contact extension, Johnson will receive a stake in Hendrick’s automotive company.