(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
FONTANA, Calif. (AP) Jimmie Johnson's sweater and baseball cap still bore the familiar Lowe's branding while he walked around the garage Friday at Auto Club Speedway.
That gear will become collectors' items later in the year. And when NASCAR visits his home track next season, the seven-time Cup champion will have to get new threads.
Yet Johnson remained publicly confident in his Hendrick Motorsports team and NASCAR's larger future after learning about the impending loss of his longtime sponsor. After backing Johnson since his debut in 2001, Lowe's is leaving Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet, and the decision is reverberating throughout a sport in which brand names are a vital part of the vocabulary.