NASCAR

Lowe's extends Johnson's contract

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)

Jimmie Johnson's second Daytona 500 victory came with another big prize - a two-year contract extension from primary sponsor Lowe's.

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Lowe's Companies Inc. said Wednesday it has re-upped with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2015 NASCAR season, making the announcement to 1,700 store managers at its national sales meeting. The extension is concurrent with Johnson's contract, which also runs through 2015 with Hendrick.

Lowe's and Hendrick first teamed in 2001 when Johnson was hired to drive for the new No. 48 team. Now in its 12th season, it's the most successful team over the last decade in NASCAR.

Johnson has won a series-best 61 races since his 2002 rookie year, has five Sprint Cup titles and has never finished lower than sixth in the standings.

''It has been a great ride with Jimmie since he started in the Cup Series 12 years ago,'' said Tom Lamb, Lowe's chief marketing officer. ''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.''

Johnson's second Daytona 500 win on Sunday came in his 400th career start. He joined Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon as just the second driver to have the same primary sponsor for each of their first 400 Cup starts.

''Lowe's believed in me before I had any success,'' said Johnson. ''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.''

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Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus have been together with Lowe's since the No. 48 team was formed, and have won at least one Sprint Cup race in 12 consecutive seasons. The five championships trail only first-ballot Hall of Fame drivers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty, who each won seven.

''We caught lightning in a bottle with this combination,'' said team owner Rick Hendrick. ''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, and we're looking forward to working together for many more years.''

Tagged: Jimmie Johnson

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