Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday that Lowe’s will not return to sponsor the No. 48 team and Jimmie Johnson after this season. Lowe’s, along with its vendors, are to be the primary sponsor on Johnson’s car for all 38 races this year (36 points races, two non-points events).
“Working with Hendrick Motorsports, Jimmie, Chad (Knaus) and the entire No. 48 team has been an incredible journey,” said Michael P. McDermott, Lowe’s chief customer officer, in a statement. “Rick Hendrick and his organization have been exceptional partners, and we could not have asked for more from Jimmie – a consummate champion and an incredible representative for our brand and his sport.
“The No. 48 team is a valuable property and has been an integral part of building the Lowe’s brand, which makes today’s decision difficult as we now look to invest in other strategic initiatives. Although we are evolving our strategy, there’s no question that being a part of seven championships and many history-making moments has been valuable for Lowe’s.”
A spokesperson for Lowe’s told NBC Sports that the company will not be sponsoring any other Cup team or NASCAR after the 2018 season.
Said car owner Rick Hendrick in a statement: “We are so appreciative of everyone at Lowe’s. They have been amazing partners. With seven championships, this program has delivered far beyond what anyone could have imagined. It goes without saying that we will fully support Lowe’s and our program together in 2018 as we pursue another championship. The success of the relationship has been unbelievable.”
Lowe’s has been with Hendrick Motorsports since 2001. In 2015, Lowe’s signed a two-year extension. Lowe’s extended the deal last year through 2018 only.
Since 2001, Johnson has won seven Cup championships and 83 races. Johnson signed signed a contract extension last June with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2020 season. Crew chief Chad Knaus’ contract ends after this season.
“I’ll always be grateful to Lowe’s for taking a chance on me and believing that I could win,” Johnson said in a statement from the team. “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.”