Matt Kenseth Joins Chip Ganassi Racing for Remainder of NASCAR Season
Matt Kenseth is making yet another Cup Series comeback.
Chip Ganassi Racing needed a stabilizing figure to drive its No. 42 NASCAR Cup Series entry in the aftermath of the dismissal of Kyle Larson and found it in the 2003 Cup Series champion. Kenseth hasn’t raced since completing a partial season in the No. 6 for Roush Fenway Racing in 2018.
Larson was fired on April 14, two days after using a racial slur on an iRacing stream, placing the team at risk of closure if sponsors couldn’t be convinced to stay.
Kenseth, 48, brings both a championship-winning resume and a reputation of going the extra (figurative) mile for team sponsors.
“I have always said that when we have to fill a driver spot, that I owe it to our team, our partners and our fans to put the best available driver in the car,” Chip Ganassi said. “We are doing exactly that with Matt. Throughout my time in NASCAR, I have always admired the way Matt Kenseth raced. He has proven to be a consistent winner, strong competitor and respectful driver, and I’m glad we are able to add another NASCAR champion to the team for the remainder of this season.”
Kenseth was essentially forced out of his ride at Joe Gibbs Racing after the 2017 season to make room for Erik Jones after a five-year stint with the organization. Kenseth was adamant that he never retired and would entertain options from competitive teams.
Roush hired him to split the No. 6 with Trevor Bayne when the team signed Wyndham Hotels as a sponsor, but he again stepped away from the sport following the 2018 season. Kenseth spent his first 13 full-time seasons with Roush.
He has 39 wins, 181 top-fives and 329 top-10s in 666 Cup Series starts in advance of joining Ganassi for the remainder of the 2020 season.
“This was an unexpected opportunity for sure,” Kenseth said. “I can’t say racing was even on my radar two weeks ago. After spending some time thinking about it and all the unique circumstances surrounding all of us right now, it just seemed the timing and the opportunity was perfect to come back. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me to get up to speed in a relatively short period of time, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m excited to work with Kurt (Busch) again and to meet all my new CGR team members, and I’m really looking forward to getting back in a Chevrolet. In 1988, I started my career in a Camaro and I can’t wait to finally race a Chevy in the Cup Series. I also need to thank Chip and all his partners for this opportunity. Hopefully we will be on the track soon.”
The Cup Series is currently on hiatus due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Teams have a tentative schedule that could see the division resume on May 17 at an empty Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. The next two weeks would see races at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
NASCAR has yet to confirm if Kenseth would receive a waiver to compete for a championship. The sanctioning body has so far issued them for minimum age requirement drivers who miss the start of a season, as well as for drivers who miss time due to an injury.
In this case, Ganassi and Kenseth would require a waiver due to a driver taking over for a fired and suspended driver.
Larson is currently suspended by NASCAR and must undergo sensitivity training before he can be reinstated. The 27-year-old was set to reach free agency by the end of this season and was the most sought after driver at the time of his firing.
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