FORT WORTH, Texas — Though Matt Kenseth refused to say he was calling it a career Saturday evening at Texas Motor Speedway, the 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion plans to take some time away from the driver’s seat after the end of this season.
Ending months of speculation following the announcement this summer that he would be replaced by Erik Jones in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota next year, Kenseth confirmed that he is not actively looking for a ride in 2018.
“I’m not committing to anything for 2018,” Kenseth said. “The retirement word doesn’t really make a lot of sense in this sport really because it’s not like the NFL, where you get a pension if you officially retire or you do any of that stuff. Mostly it’s for people like (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. that have to fill the seat and have a sponsor and all that stuff. For me it’s just different because I didn’t really have that option, my seat got filled before, before any of that so there’s really no reason to talk about it.”
“I’ll just take some time off, whatever that means. I don’t know if that’s a year, two years, three months, four months … you just never know what’s going to happen. Maybe something comes along that really makes you excited and it feels like it’s going to be a fit; then you might go do that and I’m certainly not gonna rule that out. For now, though, I’m not making any plans for 2018. I just plan on having some time off.”
Kenseth has driven for Joe Gibbs Racing since 2013, scoring 14 of his 38 career wins under the direction of the three-time Super Bowl winning coach-turned-car owner.
Prior to that, the Cambridge, Wis. native was a mainstay at Roush-Fenway Racing, where he won the 2003 Cup championship in the final season prior to the beginning of the playoff era.
All told, Kenseth has accrued 38 wins, 179 top-fives, 324 top-10s and 20 poles in 647 Cup appearances to-date, and his projected final start at Homestead-Miami Speedway will mark his 650th at NASCAR’s premier level.
In addition, Kenseth has 29 career NASCAR XFINITY Series victories and the 2004 International Race of Champions title to his credit as well.
Kenseth will be hoping to close his time at JGR with a victory, something that has eluded him all season long.
In 33 races this year, Kenseth has eight top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, as well as two poles, with a best finish of second at Watkins Glen Int’l in August.
His last win came at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July of last year.
Kenseth’s absence from the Cup Series, combined with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s scheduled retirement following the Homestead-Miami finale will leave Kurt Busch as the longest-tenured full-time driver remaining at the top level of the sport, pending Busch’s announcement of a ride for the 2018 season.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network, as well as a periodic contributor to SPEED SPORT Magazine.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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