Kenseth doesn't feel No. 88 will be an "opportunity I’m going to have"

Matt Kenseth said on Monday night he still doesn’t have a ride for 2018.

Kenseth doesn't feel No. 88 will be an "opportunity I’m going to have"
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

The 2003 Monster Energy Cup Series champion announced at Kentucky Speedway on July 7 he would not pilot the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota beyond this season. Last week, JGR made it official that Erik Jones would replace Kenseth next year.

Nothing lined up yet, but not worried

Although Kenseth’s name has been bantered about to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr., the veteran didn’t sound optimistic when he appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Late Shift on Monday.

“Honestly, I don’t know,” Kenseth said of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports ride. “I don’t feel like that’s an opportunity I’m going to have. As of today, I don’t have anything lined up for sure — and I’m really not that worried about it.

“I’m not losing sleep over it. I’m not that concerned about next season. I’m glad that we got it all out, got it out in the open so everyone knows what everybody is doing. We can get it behind us and go racing.”

Kenseth, who learned on Thursday his crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, would not be back with the No. 20 team either next year, has enjoyed a successful run with JGR. Since joining Gibbs in 2013, Kenseth has scored 14 wins, 11 poles and has qualified for the playoffs each year.

Over the course of his Cup career, Kenseth has amassed 38 wins, 175 top fives and 316 top 10s in the last two decades. For now, the affable veteran is not contemplating retirement.

Focusing on 2017 season

After finishing fourth on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Kenseth’s fourth top-five of the season, the team remains 11th in the standings — well within the playoff zone. Still, Kenseth hopes to remained focussed on the task at hand — winning races and hopefully another championship.

“It’s only July,” Kenseth said. “There’s a ton of racing left to do. We have a lot of things we still want to accomplish with the 20 (team). It’s been a great four-and-a-half years and I certainly want the last four or five months to be great as well. Really, nothing to feel bad about. I just want to work hard and race hard and try to win races.

“I feel like I’m in one of the best cars in the garage, so I have a lot to be thankful for and I have a great opportunity in front of me the next few months to go out and win some races and hopefully race for another championship. Everything is there that we need. It’s all there in front of us. Not every driver can say they have the opportunity to be in those cars. I think to get distracted and think about and talk about and worry about next year would take away from what we’re trying to do right now.”

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