Lowe’s is disputing reports that claim the home improvement retailer is back in talks with Hendrick Motorsports to sponsor Jimmie Johnson in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series beyond this season.
“Lowe’s has sincerely enjoyed our relationship with Hendrick Motorsports and Jimmie Johnson,” a statement from Lowe’s to NBC Sports read. “We announced early this year, however, that we will redirect our investment away from NASCAR after completion of this season, and that has not changed.”
Hendrick Motorsports announced earlier this year that Lowe’s would end its sponsorship of Johnson at the end of 2018. Lowe’s has been the primary sponsor of the No. 48 for Johnson’s entire Cup Series career to date. Johnson ran a partial schedule in 2001 and went full-time in the series in 2002.
According to various reports, including one from ESPN.com, recent executive changes at Lowe’s led to a renewed conversation of sponsorship of the No. 48, but on a smaller scale. The same ESPN report also claimed Hendrick Motorsports was following at least one other sponsorship lead that was far enough along in the negotiating process to result in a meeting at the Hendrick Motorsports campus in Concord, North Carolina.
Johnson confirmed in May interest from multiple companies, including Red Bull, which formerly owned a NASCAR team.
“I think there is interest from a variety of different companies. That would be one of a long list of hopefuls,” Johnson said of the energy drink company.
With Lowe’s on his car, Johnson has won seven Cup Series championships, a record he shares with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Those championships include a string of five consecutive between 2006 and 2010. He also has 83 career race wins, tying him with Hall of Fame member Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list.
The 2018 season has been a struggle for Johnson, though. Through 28 races, he has only two top-five finishes. He narrowly made the 16-driver, 10-race playoff series. He heads into the next race, Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, under threat of elimination.
Johnson and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, are under contract with HMS through the 2020 season.
"Obviously, Jimmie and I have a, although going through a bit of a slump right now, we have a great time racing together,” Knaus said upon the announcement of his latest contract extension. "We have a long relationship and enjoyed everything 48.”