By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
Though Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports may be losing Lowe’s as a sponsor at season’s end, the organization announced Sunday at Martinsville that they have found a new sponsor to take over starting in 2019
Lowe’s announced their departure from the sport back in March, forcing HMS to find a new sponsor for the No. 48 car for the first time since 2002. After seven months of looking, Ally Financial came to the forefront and they will sponsor the team full-time for the next two seasons.
“We are beyond thrilled to be in the fast lane with Jimmie Johnson, one of the most successful drivers in the history of NASCAR, and with Hendrick Motorsports, a premier organization in professional sports,” said Jeffrey Brown, CEO at Ally. “Both share Ally’s passion for delivering results for our customers and for our communities, with a deep commitment to ‘do it right’ for the people who count on us most. We look forward to working with this extraordinary team to build a strong and successful relationship as Ally enters this exciting sport.”
While most teams have a host of different sponsors adorn the quarter panels of their race cars, Johnson’s team has been one to only have one sponsor for the full season. With Ally coming on board next season, the status quo won’t be changing during their tenure as sponsors as they will sponsor all 38 races in both 2019 and 2020.
“This is a proud day for our entire organization,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “Ally has built a tremendous brand by putting the customer at the center of their decisions and doing things right. In the same way, Jimmie has always put people first and handled himself like a champion in every sense of the word. Ally’s full-season commitment makes a powerful statement about their enthusiasm for him, our program and the direction of our sport. It’s an unbelievable fit, and all of us are thrilled to launch what will be a long and successful partnership.”
The new sponsor comes amid a host of changes for the No. 48 team, with the team also having a change in leadership atop the pit box starting next year. Johnson’s long-time crew chief Chad Knaus will be heading over to crew chief for William Byron, while Kevin Meendering comes over from JR Motorsports to take over as Johnson’s crew chief.
In their 17 seasons together, Johnson, Knaus, and Lowe’s have won seven championships and 83 races together, but Johnson noted that he is ready for the new era to begin in 2019 carrying the Ally Financial colors.
“The opportunity to work with a partner like Ally is incredible,” said Johnson, 43, who is signed with Hendrick Motorsports through 2020. “Their commitment to leading in both the workplace and the community is something that resonates with me in a big way. They’ve sent a strong message about how much they believe in me and in our team, and I will do my part to make sure it’s the best investment they’ve ever made. I’m ready to chase more history with Ally on board the ‘48.’”