Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson says he wants to be involved in Hendrick Motorsports’ sponsor search for his team and that even though he’s closer to the end of his career than beginning, that shouldn’t hinder a sponsor’s interest.
Hendrick Motorsports announced this week that Lowe’s would not return as sponsor of Johnson and No. 48 team after this season. Lowe’s had been with the team since the beginning of Johnson’s Cup career in 2001.
Johnson has a contract with Hendrick Motorsports through 2020. The 42-year-old was asked Friday at Auto Club Speedway if being closer to the end of his career could make companies leery of sponsoring his team.
“Marketing today has changed quite a bit,’’ said Johnson, who has won a record six Cup races at Auto Club Speedway. “As much as we all want to think corporations look at a 10-, 15-, 20-year run for a marketing plan, they really do look year to year.’’
For those who wonder how much longer Johnson will drive, he said: “I’m not done. Hendrick is home. Retirement hasn’t been on my mind. I want to win an eighth championship.’’
Certainly that could be one of the aspects to entice companies to sponsor Johnson — his pursuit to become the all-time leader in Cup titles by breaking a tie he has with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
Johnson said he is encouraged with the sponsorship possibilities for his team.
“Very optimistic about the future myself and our race team have and the opportunity we haven’t had before — to go out and shop our deal and see what is out there and what we can do from a branding standpoint for a new company,’’ Johnson said. “Now that the announcement is out, we can get to work on that and see what the future holds for our team.’’
Johnson said he plans to be a part of the process of securing sponsorship.
“This is really a unique opportunity, and it’s also a great learning and growing moment for myself,’’ he said. “I want to be involved in this process and learn along the way, and maybe a relationship or two I’ve made through the years will come to fruition and maybe help with the sponsorship, too.’’