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Jimmie Johnson details continuing sponsorship search

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CONCORD, N.C. — Just over two months since Lowe’s announced it would not return to sponsor his No. 48 Chevrolet in 2019, Jimmie Johnson provided a little insight into his first search for a major sponsor in his Cup career.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver had to “swallow the pill” of Lowe’s departure but recognizes that “ship has sailed.”

Johnson made his comments Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Johnson, who has been sponsored by Lowe’s since 2001, said “multiple companies” are interested in backing the seven-time champion.

He was asked about a rumor that Red Bull was one of those companies interested.

“There’s definitely interest there,” Johnson said of the energy drink company that fielded its own Cup team from 2007-09. “I think there’s interest from a variety of different companies. That’s only one of a long list of hopefuls.”

Johnson said it is “exciting” to “look through a different lens” at what opportunities are out there for his team.

“A lot of conversing and ideas and you feel like sometimes a conversation with a given company is going in a different direction and then they go to work and brainstorm and come back with a new idea and angle,” Johnson said. “So, it’s amazing how much follow-up is involved and how much collaboration exists through it all. I have enjoyed the process. I’ve enjoyed being involved. I’ve learned a ton. I’ve been able to bring some opportunities to the table through my own contacts that I have and also others have come along through Mr. (Rick) Hendrick’s network and other networks.  It’s been interesting. It’s taken a lot of time and it’s been a fun, new experience for me.”

Johnson shared some of the questions he asks regarding prospective sponsors.

“How I can be integrated into their mission statement in a sense and help them internally, how they are going to market us, how they are going to use us, that is all exciting stuff,” Johnson said. “We have some great opportunities there to look at.”

Hertz set as primary sponsor of William Byron for next two years

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Hendrick Motorsports announced Wednesday that the rental car company Hertz will be a primary sponsor of William Byron in four races this year and next.

In will also sponsor Byron in this weekend’s Monster Energy All-Star Race events at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hertz will serve as an associate sponsor in all other events.

Byron, the defending Xfinity Series champion, is in his rookie Cup season. He is 19th in the point standings. His best finish is 10th at Texas Motor Speedway.

“It’s really special that a leading brand like Hertz has so much confidence in me,” Byron said in a press release. “It motivates me to continue working hard and doing everything I can to make sure we deliver results for them. I’m happy to welcome Hertz to the Hendrick Motorsports family and look forward to having a lot of success with them in the months and years ahead.”

Byron is entered in the Monster Energy Open before the All-Star Race. Byron can transfer to the main event by either winning one of the Open’s three stages or by winning the fan vote.

Kansas Speedway announces sponsor for May 12 Cup race

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The May 12 Cup race at Kansas Speedway will have a new sponsor, the track announced Wednesday.

The night race will be called the KC Masterpiece 400, after the barbecue sauce created in Kansas City in 1978.

The race was sponsored by GoBowling.com for the last two years.

Zynga Poker to sponsor Matt DiBenedetto in seven more races

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GoFas Racing announced Saturday it has partnered with Zynga Poker as a primary sponsor on Matt DiBenedetto‘s No. 32 Ford for seven more races this year.

Zynga, a social game developer, first sponsored DiBenedetto in the March race at ISM Raceway after a social media campaign by the driver to attract sponsorship.

Zynga Poker will sponsor DiBenedetto during All-Star Weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 19th, Pocono (June 3), Daytona (July 7), Watkins Glen (Aug. 5), Bristol (Aug. 18), Las Vegas (Sept. 16), and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 18).

“We are inspired by Matt’s fans and excited to join the rally to keep No. 32 in the race,” said Monty Kerr, senior vice president for Zynga Poker in a press release. “Over the past 10 years, Zynga Poker players have shown the same passion and enthusiasm so we’re proud to partner with a team that loves their fans as much as we do.”

In a press conference Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, the team said it has four unsponsored races remaining this season.

“I know we say it a lot, but it really has been a lot of fun working with and getting to know the Zynga Poker team,” team manager Mason St. Hilaire said in the press release. “Being able to put together a partnership just two days prior to the Phoenix race in March and to be able to turn it into what it has become today really speaks volumes for how perfect of a partnership this really is. With Zynga Poker’s global audience, we’re excited to engage a new generation of poker players and introduce them to NASCAR racing.”