Hendrick Motorsports got a little bit of breathing room Friday in its sponsorship chase by agreeing to a four-year extension with Axalta to sponsor a combined 25 races per season between Alex Bowman and William Byron.
The deal runs through the 2022 season and comes one week after team owner Rick Hendrick confirmed home improvement giant Lowe's will no longer sponsor seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson after this season. Lowe's has been Johnson's only primary sponsor since his 2001 debut, and replacing that level of funding will be a daunting task for the race team.
For now, though, Hendrick has two of his newcomers partially covered into the future.
Axalta will be a primary sponsor for 15 races with Bowman this year and 12 next season. Byron will carry Axalta colors 10 times this year, 13 races next year. The schedules for the 2020 through 2022 seasons will be announced at a later date.
Axalta is a global supplier of liquid and powder coatings. The company has been partners with Hendrick Motorsports since November 1992 when it sponsored Jeff Gordon as DuPont. Gordon went on to win four Cup titles and 93 races through 2015.
Axalta stayed on through 2016 and 2017 with Dale Earnhardt Jr. driving. Axalta last May opened a 36,000-square-foot Customer Experience Center on the Hendrick Motorsports campus outside Charlotte.
Hendrick said the company's commitment to the team and the sport was "unbelievable" and Axalta Chairman Charlie Shaver praised the partnership.
"Motorsports is in Axalta's DNA," he said.
Hendrick has a rebuilt lineup with Johnson as his only veteran. Chase Elliott replaced Gordon when Gordon retired, and Bowman stepped in when Earnhardt retired at the end of last season. Byron was hired to replace Kasey Kahne, who was let go at the end of last year.
Bowman last month won the pole for the Daytona 500. Byron won last year's Xfinity Series championship.
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