Jimmie Johnson isn’t done yet but in the possible case of of lacking sponsorship for 2019: “I wouldn’t be on the street, I don’t think.”
Lowe’s and Jimmie Johnson will end an 18 year relationship at the end of 2018. Lowe’s stems to the roots of Johnson’s premier series career. “I was able to drive a cup car because of them.”
Now, after 7 NASCAR Cup Series championships, Johnson is engaged in a sponsorship search.
“I’m very optimistic about the future and our race team. We have an opportunity that we haven’t had before. To go out and shop our deal and see what’s out there. Now that the announcement is out, we can get to work on that.”
“The desire to keep racing is absolutely there. I’m going to be around, awhile.”
“I just found out recently, myself. I hate to see the relationship end between the two of us. They really have supported NASCAR through many many decades.”
Bob Pockrass asked: Do you need a sponsor to race? Or, if you don’t find a sponsor are you going to be on the street?
“No. I wouldn’t be on the street, I don’t think. That hasn’t even been a topic of discussion in the short few days that we’ve known what’s going on,” Jimmie Johnson says with a laugh.
“I’d say there’s great optimism that we’ll land an amazing sponsor.”
As far as the search, “I want to be involved in this process.”
How do you convince a sponsor when you only have 2-3-4 years left?
“I plan to keep racing. I might not be in NASCAR full-time. But, I have many other series and types of cars that I wanna race in. And a lifestyle that I want to live. Even doing fitness style events, mountain bike races, triathlons and stuff like that.”
“I’m going to stay active. There could be a fit for the right lifestyle brand of sorts.”
“Marketers look in the tradition thought. They look year to year. So, I don’t see that being a big issue at all.”
Chad Knaus has worked with Jimmie Johnson since 2002. His contract might or might not be renewed for 2019. Lowe’s has been with Jimmie Johnson since his debut in 2001. They will certainly exit the team in 2019. In addition, Jimmie Johnson already has 7 championships and his career is coming to an end.
Why not just say this is your last year? Why put yourself through the stress?
“I’m not done man. I guess maybe it’s the eternal optimist that I am. I just have more to do and I enjoy the process. Hendrick is home and retirement hasn’t been on my mind.”
“I wanna win. I wanna win an eighth championship. If you look at Chad’s contract, it has nothing to do with Lowe’s. Just because a sponsor is changing, it doesn’t change his environment.”
“Im the elder statesman at a company with three young guys. If I was to have this be the end, it would put Hendrick Motorsports in a very awkward position. There’s a lot of ways that I could look at it and say why it would be the absolute wrong time.”
Aside from Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports is a camp full of rookie drivers. Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman have 4 years under their belt. However, William Byron is in his first year in the series.
“At the end of the day, it’s really my desire to compete. I’m not done yet.”
Do you view the decision by Lowe’s as a statement of the state of the sport?
“I really don’t view it as a statement of our sport. I see our sport growing. I see many new sponsors coming to Hendrick Motorsports. I see a returning sponsor coming to NASCAR. I’ve seen full grandstands.”
“It’s been an exciting start to this season. I really don’t see it as a reflection of the sport. It’s a business decision that Lowe’s needed to make.”
“If you look at how long they’ve been in the sport, I’m not sure there’s been a sponsor that stuck around this long. I’m very proud of their contributions to our industry.”
Originally, the Lowe’s most recent Lowe’s contract extension was announced in 2017. That press release stated that Lowe’s would continue it’s deal with Jimmie Johnson through 2020.