Jimmie Johnson, Lowe's to part ways after 2018 NASCAR season

Jimmie Johnson- pic

Jimmie Johnson- pic

Lowe's, one of the last remaining corporate giants in NASCAR, announced Wednesday that it will not sponsor seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson after this season, an ominous sign for the nation's top racing series.

"We are so appreciative of everyone at Lowe's", team owner Rick Hendrick said in a statement. "This change opens up all kinds of possibilities, and we look forward to having conversations with potential new partners".

For Lowe's, the decision is simply business.

Hendrick Motorsports announced today that Lowe's is leaving Johnson's auto and the team as a whole after this season. Owner and company took a leap on Johnson, the driver Jeff Gordon promised them was going to be a star.

Jimmie Johnson soon will be without the only primary sponsor he's ever had on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He won five consecutive Cup titles from 2006 to 2010 and has 83 career Cup wins. Back then it was not uncommon for sponsors to pay upwards of $20 million for a full season of decals on a vehicle. So is Home Depot and Sprint. In 2015, Lowe's signed a two-year extension. Lowe's extended the deal a year ago through 2018 only.

The No. 11 driven by Denny Hamlin has sponsorship from FedEx for 34 of the 36 races this season while Kyle Busch's No. 18 has sponsorship for 30 races from Mars Brands.

But those deals are dinosaurs left over from the financial upswing, and aside from FedEx and the M&M's line, almost all the megadeals from the early 2000s have either left motorsports or gone the way of Miller Lite, which gradually reduced its hold on its Brad Keselowski inventory. Crew chief Chad Knaus' contract ends after this season. With seven championships, this program has delivered far beyond what anyone could have imagined.

"I'll always be grateful to Lowe's for taking a chance on me and believing that I could win". "I'm not sure where I'd be right now if they hadn't committed to the No. 48 team".

Lowe's will cease its involvement in NASCAR completely, leaving Hendrick to find Johnson a replacement primary sponsor for 2019 and beyond.

"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", said Michael P. McDermott, Lowe's chief customer officer.