CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Lowe’s, among the last continuing to be corporate giants in NASCAR, announced Wednesday that it will certainly not sponsor seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson after ~ this season, an ominous sign for the nation’s optimal racing series.

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Times have changed.

Sponsor after ~ sponsor has actually scaled ago on full package commitments, and also teams currently sell open inventory on their cars in pieces. A complete season sponsor is now practically unheard the in any type of racing collection and one by one the happiness 500 backers have altered their marketing spends. Target is the end of racing. So is residence Depot and also Sprint. UPS, Subway, good Clips and also Dollar General. Aaron’s and Best Buy room gone, too. GoDaddy to be gone yet came earlier only this season because that a two-race bye tour with Danica Patrick.

It’s a different world, and also only a handful of carriers come anywhere close to the appointment Lowe’s has had actually with Johnson, including every gyeongju last year. Denny Hamlin had actually FedEx ~ above 34 of 36 races last year. A Mars Inc. Product was aboard Kyle Busch’s vehicle for 30 points races and his various other six went to Interstate Batteries.

But those deals are dinosaurs left over from the gaue won upswing, and also aside indigenous FedEx and the M&M’s line, virtually all the megadeals indigenous the beforehand 2000s have actually either left motorsports or unable to do the way of miller Lite, i beg your pardon gradually reduced its organize on the Brad Keselowski inventory. By scaling back, miller Lite reduced its spend, retained its association v Keselowski and gave Team Penske empty pages to sell.

Now Hendrick Motorsports will put Johnson’s auto on the open market and they deserve to sell the inventory in piece for the an initial time.

It’s a pretty beneficial asset, too. Along with crew chef Chad Knaus, the No. 48 Chevrolet team is among the finest in stock car history. Their 7 championships same those of room of Famers Richard Petty and also Dale Earnhardt, and in 2009 Johnson to be the first driver named associated Press masculine Athlete the the Year. Johnson is 42 and also signed with Hendrick Motorsports with 2020.

“I’ll constantly be thankful to Lowe’s for taking a possibility on me and also believing the I might win,” Johnson said. “I’m not certain where I’d be right currently if lock hadn’t cursed to the No. 48 team. It’s difficult to see them relocate on, yet we’ve made history together and also celebrated so much success on and off the track.”

Lowe’s probably stayed in the sport much longer than expected since rival house Depot left NASCAR ~ the 2014 season. Menards is still in NASCAR, and while the Lowe’s funding helped Johnson and also Hendrick Motorsports discover success, there is not much of a rivalry in the marketing space.

Lowe’s chief customer officer Michael P. McDermott said just that the company was “evolving” the strategy.

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“The No. 48 team is a valuable property and also has been an integral component of structure the Lowe’s brand, which makes today’s decision an overwhelming as we now look come invest in other strategic initiatives,” the said.