Matt Kenseth: "I do not have a job for next year"

The first domino of silly season dropped on Friday when Matt Kenseth announced he would not return to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018.

Matt Kenseth: "I do not have a job for next year"
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Chris Buescher, JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Erik Jones, Furniture Row Racing Toyota
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Ironically, it was also here at Kentucky Speedway in 2012, where the 2003 NASCAR Cup champion confirmed he was leaving Roush Fenway Racing to inevitably drive the No. 20 JGR.

“I’m not really worried about it,” Kenseth said. “As of today, I do not have a job for next year. I certainly hope to still be racing. I think I’ve got some wins left in me, and hopefully I can race for championships, but right now my focus is on finishing up this year.

“As we talked about, it’s been kind of a slow start. It hasn’t been a good year at all, not nearly up to my standards or my team’s standards. Really trying to get back to Victory Lane, hopefully trying to get qualified for the playoffs here and have a shot at the championship is pretty much my focus at this point.”

When asked whether he would remain in the JGR family, Kenseth didn’t see that as an option.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “Like I said, I don’t have a ride at this moment for next year. I haven’t really worked on anything really hard but I do not think I will have the option to work at JGR next year, unfortunately.”

Erik Jones to replace him?

As mentioned in the Erik Jones story on Motorsport.com on Thursday, the Kyle Busch protege is expected to move into the No. 20 JGR for 2018. The 21-year-old rookie was coy on Thursday when asked about his status for next season.

“I don’t know where I’m going to be yet,” Jones said. “They haven’t let me know. For me, I’ve been really happy at Furniture Row (Racing) and it’s been a steady group of guys over there that I think work really well together. I don’t know yet.”

Kenseth, 45, has 38 wins, 19 poles 174 top fives and 315 top 10s in 631 Monster Energy Cup Series starts. Since the introduction of the Playoffs —  a format formulated after Kenseth blew the Cup field away points-wise despite one win in the 2003 season — he has qualified for all but one post-season berth.

Moving to Hendrick Motorsports?

He’s been rumored to be moving to Hendrick Motorsports to fill a one-year gap before William Byron graduates to the Cup series in 2019. However, as well as Byron has raced this season, the Hendrick development driver could be promoted sooner than later. As of Friday, Kenseth insists he doesn’t have a job for next year.

“I don’t have a ride at this moment for next year,” Kenseth said. “I really haven’t worked on anything real hard, but I do not think I will have the option to race at JGR next year, unfortunately.

“I’ve really probably said too much about what I’m not doing next year, so I really don’t have anything to say about what I am doing at this point. At this point, I don’t have anything going on for next year, and I’m pretty focused on trying to get running better this year and winning some races.”

Click on image to watch Kenseth talk about his situation.

 

 

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