Jimmie Johnson’s two-year extension won’t be his last
Jimmie Johnson said his two-year contract extension with Hendrick Motorsport announced this week won’t be his last.
“Not that I’m aware of, not unless Rick (Hendrick) wants me to do something else,” Johnson said with a laugh while meeting with media during an open test at Kansas Speedway.
Unless you count car dealerships, Johnson says there weren’t any complicated layers to arriving at the extension, which was announced along with crew chief’s Chad Knaus’ three-year extension and the two-year agreement with sponsor Lowe’s Home Improvement.
Johnson now holds a stake in Hendrick’s auto dealer empire.
“The contract had changed a little bit between Rick and I,” Johnson said. “With the automotive side, it just took awhile to get everything in place for that. They got Chad’s done and out of the way then we finally got mine done.”
That’s a deal Hendrick has entered into with other drivers that have raced for him, including Terry Labonte, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon.
“That’s income-producing for life,” Hendrick told the AP. “Jeff’s involved in three or four (dealerships), and that’s income. I’ve got Earnhardt involved, and we’re going to expand Jimmie’s deal. When they retire, they like cars, they can be involved if they want to, but it’s a business that I know and I can run it and they can be a partner in it and continue on.”
Johnson said Hendrick had wanted to announce the joint extensions of Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus’ and sponsor Lowes’ Home Improvement as the retailer’s manager’s meetings on Jan. 15. But then the racing season started.
“Once we got racing, we maybe focused on racing and forgot about the contract because we’re all three so secure with our situation,” Johnson said. “I guess maybe thanks to fans or media noticing we’re getting to the end of my contract, we kind of got it back in gear and finished up.”
The news of the extension came with the start of the the Chase for the Sprint Cup looming at Chicagoland Speedway. Johnson will be looking to earn his seventh Sprint Cup championship, which would tie him with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Now three races shy of his 500th Sprint Cup start, Johnson says he, Hendrick and Lowes are committed to the future together.
“To be honest it’s a very casual situation: sponsor, team, driver,” Johnson said. “I think we all feel highly committed to one another and married together and we’re family together. It just happened a little later in the year than we wanted to.”