Lowe’s staying with Jimmie Johnson

Speculation that Lowe’s might disappear from Jimmie Johnson’s Sprint Cup car was premature. The home improvement company on Wednesday announced a two-year extension to stay with the five-time series champion on the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports car.

The deal, announced to 1,700 store managers at Lowe’s national sales meeting three days after Johnson won his second Daytona 500, runs concurrent with Johnson’s HMS contract that goes through 2015.

“It has been a great ride with Jimmie since he started in the Cup Series 12 years ago,” Tom Lamb, Lowe’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “We are proud to sponsor one of the most elite teams and drivers in racing and have a five-time champion carry the Lowe’s brand each week.”

Lowe’s has been the primary sponsor on Johnson’s car since his first full Cup season in 2002. Over that time the 37-year-old driver has won 61 times, the most in Cup during that span. He’s also never finished lower than sixth in championship points.

Johnson, who won five consecutive titles from 2006 to 2010, is only the second driver to have the primary sponsor for each of his first 400 Cup starts. Teammate Jeff Gordon with DuPont was the other.

“Lowe’s believed in me before I had any success,” Johnson said. “They are all I’ve ever known in my Sprint Cup career, and their support of me and the No. 48 team is second to none in the sport. We’ve been together for this crazy ride and I’m so happy we’re continuing it together. They truly are family and I’m proud to represent them.”

Johnson’s five championships are second only to Hall of Fame drivers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with seven each. All were won with crew chief Chad Knaus.

“We caught lightning in a bottle with this combination,” said Rick Hendrick, the owner of HMS. “Jimmie and Chad have been successful because they always have a plan and do a great job executing. Lowe’s is the same way as a sponsor. The partnership has been incredible.”

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