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Companies Are Bullish On Seven-Time Champion Jimmie Johnson

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, May 24 2018

Jimmie Johnson says sponsorship for 2019 is looking good. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CONCORD, N.C. – Jimmie Johnson confirmed Thursday that Red Bull was one of the companies that had expressed an interest in replacing Lowe’s as the seven-time NASCAR champion’s primary sponsor in 2019.

Red Bull was involved in NASCAR from 2006-2011. During that time the team fielded cars for Brian Vickers, Kasey Kahne, A.J. Allmendinger, Casey Mears, Mattias Ekstrom, Boris Said, Mike Skinner, Reed Sorenson, Scott Speed and Cole Whitt.

Lowe’s has been Johnson’s primary sponsor since he began his Cup career in 2001, but the Mooresville, N.C.-based company announced earlier this year it would leave at the end of the 2018 season.

“Of course, we don’t want to see Lowe’s leave, Johnson said during preparations for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We have had such an amazing run with them and there is a little bit of fear associated with such a big sponsor and such an integral part of Hendrick Motorsports, (but) the multiple companies that are interested and the ideas and the ways that people would like to use us are very exciting and encouraging,”

Johnson has been heavily involved with the sponsor hunt and said he was amazed at the follow-up involved and the amount of collaboration that existed throughout the process.

You feel like sometimes a conversation with a given company is going in a different direction and then they go and go to work and brainstorm and come back with a new idea and angle,” Johnson said. “It’s been interesting. It’s taken a lot of time and it’s been a fun, new experience for me. I’ve learned a ton.”

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Kevin Harvick, the NASCAR Cup Series leading winner this year with five victories, failed inspection three times Thursday. That resulted in NASCAR ejecting car chief Robert Smith and assessing Harvick a 30-minute penalty for final practice for the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday. Harvick, last weekend’s All-Star winner, must start at the rear of the field on Sunday.

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Daniel Suarez said Thursday his left thumb that he injured at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year was almost “perfect.”

“I’ve already been a few weeks racing without my cast,” said Suarez, who suffered an avulsion fracture in his left thumb during an accident. “If I bent my finger far enough to one side or the other, I can still feel the pain a little bit. Obviously, I don’t do that when I’m racing, but it’s much better. I have no idea when it’s going to be perfect, but it’s pretty close to perfect.”

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Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. says he, Kyle Larson and Daniel Suarez are aware of the roles they carry and what it’s like to be in that spotlight since they are the first drivers from NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program to compete in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

I’m starting to see more minorities and just a different demographic at the race track and followers on social media, so it’s all continuing to grow,” Wallace said Thursday. “It’s not huge numbers that are flowing in and it’s not going to happen like that.

“The outsiders that look into this sport think that switching manufacturers and new driver and all this stuff that teams just kind of change things over night and become a superior team. That is not how it works.  It goes the same for changing the demographic.  It’s all about word of mouth and getting one fan or one family out for them to go back or for them to experience the excitement of this sport and what it has to offer and for them to go back and tell the next family.  It’s like a cycle and the next thing you know you start seeing more and more.”

Wallace said he tries to remain positive no matter the situation and develop his individuality. He wants people to say “he makes it enjoyable to be at the race track.”

“Even when I’m at my worst, I try to put on my best and carry that positive attitude,” Wallace said. “It’s been a fun process.  It’s a tough process trying to juggle all the emotions and the pressure there, but at the end of the day it’s our job to go out there and perform and put the best foot forward.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, May 24 2018
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