What happened: Matt Kenseth, in an interview with NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan, acknowledged what has seemed increasingly apparent over the last few months — that he will not race in NASCAR next season, and perhaps never again. Kenseth said there were no good opportunities to race in the Cup Series in 2018 and though he was open to a return, he didn’t “really feel it’s in the cards.” (He said a lot more than that, so you should read the interview — linked above — if you haven’t.)
What it means: This appears to be the unsatisfying end of the road for a future Hall of Fame driver and another big blow to NASCAR. The Cup Series will now have lost Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth all within a span of three years. It’s an entire generation of star power leaving all at once.
News value (scale of 1-10): Eight. Even though people knew Kenseth was probably going to be the odd man out in Silly Season, it’s still jarring to realize this could be the end. But it’s also a relief, because now Kenseth can be celebrated for the next two weeks and his fans will have at least a brief chance to say goodbye. Although Kenseth is understated and probably doesn’t care much for recognition, it would have been sad for him to step out of the car for the final time at Homestead and just walk away without any fanfare.
Three questions: Can the NASCAR industry scramble to pay proper respect to the 2003 Cup champ in the next few weeks? Will we see Kenseth back behind the wheel at some point, or is this really it? How crazy have the economics of the sport gotten when an elite driver who can still win races can’t get a top ride for next season?