Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports announced Johnson’s contract extension. The No. 48 Monster Energy Cup Series driver signed a three-year extension that will keep him at Hendrick Motorsports through 2020.
“I’ve said it many times. I’m very content with where I’m at in the race car, and just truly love competing and being on the track” Johnson said in the press conference this morning at Michigan International Speedway.
He said having a three-year extension makes him smile and makes him excited about the future.
Retirement in Three Years?
With the No. 48 driver signing a three year contract, the question comes up whether 2020 is the year he targets for retirement, but Johnson said the end of the three years doesn’t necessarily mean anything in terms of career.
“When the fire does go out, I’ll step down. I don’t have any framework now on a timeline,” he said.
“I just know I’ve got three more years of trying to win championships and win races. I’m as hungry as I’ve ever been, and I’m just as focused on doing my job. We’ll see how these three years go.”
Johnson added he hopes to add at least another Cup championship trophy and numerous wins over the trio of years to come, while having fun along the way.
Lowe’s Home Improvement
Johnson is one of the few Cup drivers that can still boast they’ve got the same primary sponsor for the entire season. Rising costs of running and sponsoring a team make it that much more rare. Yet with Johnson’s contract extension, Lowe’s Home Improvement is staying on through at least through next season.
“To have them back on for another season is incredible,” he said.
“Chad Knaus, Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports, Jimmie Johnson — to have this long of a run together is super special”
Johnson said he’s had 17 seasons with Lowe’s, and hopes for more beyond that.
“38 races at a full-time primary sponsorship is nothing to sneeze at,” he said.
Knaus’ contract, like Hendrick Motorsports is only through 2018, but Johnson says he hopes to keep them both part of the team beyond that.
Johnson said he started his Cup career with Knaus and really wants to finish it with him.
“Crew chief years — I like to call them dog years,” Johnson said.
“I have no clear picture where that will take him, but I’ll do my best to keep him around as long as I can.”
With Dale Earnhardt, Jr. retiring at the end of the year, Chase Elliott working through his first year, and Kasey Kahne continuing to struggle, the next three years are likely to be full of some changes — minimally a new driver in the No. 88, and possibly the No. 5. Johnson said he takes comfort in the four car team owner, Rick Hendrick.
“The biggest thing for me is knowing how much Mr. Hendrick loves to win,” Johnson said.
“His commitment to winning, his commitment to Hendrick Motorsports — the sport’s always changing and evolving and how we win and how we stay on top has changed so much since I started in 2002. I have full confidence and trust in him and where he takes the team.”
Johnson said that sitting in closed door meetings at Hendrick Motorsports he’s heard a lot of options being explored.
“I know in Rick’s heart, it’s all to put the best four cars on the racetrack for Hendrick Motorsports and win races and championships,” he said.
“My faith is in Rick completely.”
Further reading: – Hendrick Motorsports extends relationships with Johnson and sponsor Lowe’s