– I want to rewind to the news from yesterday, Jeff. We found out Lowe’s is not going to be back as a sponsor in 2019. What does all that mean and where does HMS go from here?
– Yeah, I think like so many fans out there, you would like to see– they truly are a dynasty, right? And that connection to Lowe’s has been there the whole time, through those 83 wins and the seven championships. And you just hope that that would go all the way until Jimmie decides to stop driving, whenever that may be. But that’s not the case. You know, it’s a business decision on Lowe’s. I think Hendrick has certainly known over the last couple of years, sort of, their realignment and some changes that are going on there internally. So I think now it’s about looking forward of all right, we know this decision has been made, and now it’s here, here’s one of the biggest sports properties that’s available out there. Not great timing, you know, never is good timing, I guess. But I think it’s going to be interesting to see that, now that this is an open door for a new sponsor to come into the sport.
– Certainly an open door, but on the other side of that, no one demands bigger dollar right from a sponsorship standpoint than Jimmie Johnson. What is the balancing act when you look at the bottom line and say and what it needs to fill that hole?
– Well, yeah, obviously, you have the best people one of the best teams, so you’re talking about top driver, top crew chief, and so on– engineers and everything else. So yeah, it’s going to take a big number to– and Hendrick Motorsports also, the way that they do things, it’s definitely an expensive sport and they do it at the highest level. So you know it’s going to be interesting to see what companies are out there that are interested. Are they in the sport already, or is it a new sponsor out there that is looking to get into NASCAR?
– How concerning, Bubba, if at all, what we’re seeing out of the 48? Not the start they would like obviously, but we know, tracks like California, they can get it going.
– Yeah, for sure. I think, you know, look at Jimmie– I mean he’s seven time for a reason. So it’s still early for them, so I think I wouldn’t say sandbag him, but they could just be trying stuff, right?
– What’s your confidence level, Larry?
– I do think we keep waiting for that week. Jeff and I were talking about this before the show, but I mean, I know we’re only four races into 2018. Their best start this year– 14th at Vegas. He has led zero laps. He had scored zero stage points. I know we keep waiting for it to end, but honestly, I think Hendrick Motorsports across the board– Chad Knaus told us at Daytona that we’re not doing a good job right now. All they have to hang their hat on, so far in 2018, is a 10th place finish by Chase Elliott in Atlanta, a third place finish at Phoenix, which is now being overshadowed a little bit because of the penalty.
– Well, the good news is, they have some bulletin board material now, because Larry just fired them up and gave them a reason to make him wrong, right?
– If they didn’t have any.
– Motive them! Motivate them.