ZT. St. Petersburg, Florida. — Jimmy Johnson needed money to go to IndyCar, so the seven-time NASCAR champion became a salesman first.

He will continue to sell next year as a representative of the Carvana online car dealer throughout the year.

Johnson and Chip Ganassi Racing announced that Carvana, a company known for its multi-level vending machines, will hold its 48th annual meeting on Saturday. Honda, where Johnson will sponsor IndyCar races on racetracks and street tracks.

It’s a great partnership that Johnson has been driving Rick Hendrick, one of the largest car dealers in the country, for the past 19 seasons. Johnson asked Hendrick’s blessing before he signed the deal.

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I’ve been in contact with him from the beginning, Johnson told the Associated Press prior to the announcement at the IndyCar season finale in St. Peter’s. He was great in Rick’s typical way, and he knows how hard it is to find money for sponsorship.

Johnson will retire fulltime from NASCAR next month at the end of the season. At the age of 45 he is associated with Richard Patty and the late Dale Ernhardt with seven cup plates.

Johnson grew up with a desire to compete in the IndyCar series, an opportunity that Ganassi offered him for 2021, provided they could find funding. Johnson and his own management team were sponsored and Johnson personally worked on 44 promising projects.

It’s the first time he’s really sold his brand. Johnson ceased operations in 2001, at the height of Hendrick’s sponsorship of NASCAR.

Companies have signed multi-million dollar contracts to put their logos on the racing cars, and the team owners have had no problem financing entire seasons. Lowe signed a long-term contract with Hendrick Motorsports in 2001, for a new record of 48 people, of which the driver is the relatively unknown Johnson.

The company was Johnson’s sole sponsor for the first 17 seasons before Lowe left NASCAR.

Hendrick’s sales team then found Ellie, who had sponsored Johnson for the past two seasons and had delivered the first performance between Johnson and Carvana.

This time Johnson made an effort to raise its own money and today Carvana is only the third Johnson sponsor in two decades. He was worried that he would have to sell his IndyCar program in two and three match tickets to different companies, thus separating himself from the pure and recognizable brand he had always had, because today he had economic problems finding sponsors.

The caravan was sold and it was agreed to finance the 13 races as part of the Johnson IndyCar calendar. Ganassi said he wants to compete in four oval races on Saturday with another rider; Johnson doesn’t want to compete in the ovals.

Fault! The file name is not specified. Jimmy Johnson talks about his IndyCar experience on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Florida The caravan has been announced as Johnson’s sponsor for his IndyCar race with Chip Ganassi. AP Photo/Mike Carlson

Carvana has a light sponsor portfolio – the company leads a Phoenix Travel T-shirt in the American Football League – and is a beginner in motorsport.

Johnson used his strong social media presence to influence Carvana, which is based on online commerce. Johnson has more than 2.6 million followers united on Twitter and Instagram, in total, he says, exceeding the combined accounts of all current IndyCar drivers and the competition itself.

When I worked with Carvana, I realized the importance of my digital footprint and it was a great tool we had to use to support sales, Johnson said. Carvana is a digital company and is interested in digital content.

We believe we have a great responsibility to help them understand the loyalty of sports fans. If we use it correctly, your investment in Carvana will pay for itself. I’m sure we can do it, especially a car company sitting in a racing car and showing what [Carvana] can do for them.

Carvana launched its brand in 2012 and continues to develop it further. She saw the partnership with Johnson as an opportunity to raise her profile with a recognized superstar and one of the most successful IndyCar teams.

According to Ryan Keaton, chief brand manager at Carvana, the company also found value in helping Johnson make a career change.

I think it’s really rare for someone who is a real champion in their sport to move on to another sport and start almost from scratch, said Keaton in the accompanying press release. I think our ability to help him realize his childhood dream has been a great help. It hasn’t been easy: It’s time for printing, awareness and a logo.

Jimmy is an extraordinary person and an incredibly successful driver, and there is that mission and desire to do something new and exciting. Michael Jordan doesn’t go to baseball, but normally the champion doesn’t start again. We are very, very happy to help him realize this dream.

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