Jimmie Johnson’s contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports is official.
The team announced the seven-time champion had signed a three-year contract extension through the 2020 season. Johnson’s current deal was set to expire at the end of 2017.
Hendrick also said that Lowe’s, Johnson’s primary sponsor since he entered the Cup Series in 2002, would be Johnson’s full-season sponsor through the 2018 season.
“My relationship with Lowe’s, Hendrick Motorsports and all of my teammates means so much to me,” Johnson said in a statement. “I remember hoping to just win one race. Winning seven championships and 83 races was inconceivable, and now we have the opportunity to do even more together. It says a lot to have one sponsor, one crew chief and one team for so long. I couldn’t be more proud to represent everyone at Lowe’s and Hendrick Motorsports, and I continue to be as grateful for the opportunity as I was when we started.”
Johnson scored his seventh title in 2016 and is tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most Cup Series championships of any NASCAR driver. He currently leads the Cup Series with three wins in the first 14 races of 2017. Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. are the only two other drivers with multiple wins.
Johnson’s contract extension was no surprise. He had been saying that the two sides were working on a deal and it would be a massive shock if the 42-year-old left HMS. And, quite frankly, there’s really no place to go for Johnson anyway. Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing are currently full while Team Penske could be expanding to three cars next year anyway. Johnson isn’t leaving Hendrick just for the heck of it.
The extension also helps solidify Hendrick’s near-future driver lineup. The team is currently looking for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s successor in the No. 88 car and Kasey Kahne’s contract runs for one more season. But Kahne’s car needs 24 races of sponsorship in 2018 after the departures of Farmers Insurance and Great Clips. Chase Elliott is and will be the driver of the No. 24.
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