News Analysis: Matt Kenseth says return to Joe Gibbs Racing is unlikely

What happened: Matt Kenseth, responding to a question about his 2018 plans from’s Bob Pockrass during a media availability at Kentucky Speedway, said he likely will not be back at Joe Gibbs Racing after this season. “I don’t think I will have the option to return to race for JGR next year, unfortunately,” he said.

What it means: Kenseth’s contract was up at the end of this season, which was why his name was floated for the No. 88 car opening in the past couple months. The 2003 Cup champ has said several times he does not intend to retire. Meanwhile, it’s been known JGR would like to get driver Erik Jones back in house from a one-year deal at affiliate Furniture Row Racing. With Suarez, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin all locked in, that did not appear to leave room for the 45-year-old Kenseth; now we have some degree of confirmation.

News value (scale of 1-10): Six. Though this is not a surprise given Kenseth’s expiring contract and age, it is unusual to hear a straight answer like that during a news conference. Also, this will serve as an unofficial kickoff to Silly Season in the public eye because now one domino is obvious to everyone.

Questions: Where will Kenseth end up next season? If Jones leaves the No. 77 car, who fills that very attractive ride? Will we have to wait until August before the first actual move is announced?

21 Replies to “News Analysis: Matt Kenseth says return to Joe Gibbs Racing is unlikely”

    1. Why is no one mentioning the 5… we all know kahne isn’t going to be resigned. This way they can get bowman in the 88 where he’s been testing the equipment

      1. Kahne is still under contract through next year. Makes the most sense that that’s the ride Bryon gets. There are sponsorship questions on that car too, so I don’t know if paying a driver not to drive for you is the best course of action.

  1. Well, at least I didn’t get that MATT-20 vanity plate I wanted when I re-registered my car this month.

    1. That would b a great fit for Matt! Would love it if Tony would sign him!

  2. When older drivers need a new ride they, in general, do not get a top-notch drive. Just sayin’.

  3. It will be the 10 car, I think Tony and the world is over the Danica experiment, he wants a racer that can win, which Matt will instantly bring. Hendrick needs more young talent at the cup level. Alex has been shadowing the 88 team for over a year now so i’d say he’s a lock for that pending sponsor approval.

    1. Matt has 38 wins over 630+ races.

      Which is at best, one a year-two a year (especially if you count the stat anomaly 2015). He’s the guy formerly known as “Driver who won the Championship without a single win and changed NASCAR as we know it”.

      Kenseth is an okay dude. But he’s “old” in sports years, rarely gets talked about on TV, and he just doesn’t win that much for being in a top tier ride. Especially when you look at the crazy crop of talent waiting to break out right now. The fresh talent pool is DEEP. Hungry kids, who have been winning, getting talked about and who come way, way, cheaper than Kenseth.

      1. He has had good seasons and winless seasons, like anyone else.

        2002 – 5 race winner and most wins in a season.
        2003 – 1 win but also championship
        2004 – 2 wins
        2005 – down year and 1 win
        2006 – 4 wins and 2nd in championship
        2007 – 2 wins (half races in COT which roush struggled with)
        2008 – roush continued to struggle and no wins
        2009 – Daytona 500 and California (2 wins)
        2010 – winless again
        2011 – 3 wins
        2012 – 3 wins
        2013 – 7 wins
        2014 – winless
        2015 – 5 wins
        2016 – 2 wins

        He’s generally 2-4 wins per year, not 1 or two. Just depends how things go.

      2. He actually did win a race in 2003 if you were paying attention. He won Vegas that year. That alone is enough to render the rest of your bullshit answer absolutely worthless.

  4. If he goes to Stewat-Haas they would break the meter on sarcastic humor with Harvick, Boyer, and Kenseth. Kurt would be the straight man I guess.

  5. Matt ‘s talent maybe not what it once was but in a competitive ride he can still win a race or two a year. I don’t know if SHR is interested in Matt but he could take the #10 to a new High.

  6. I feel like Kenseth either ends up in the 10 for SHR or just swaps rides with Erik Jones and ends up in the 77 with FRR until Christopher Bell reaches Cup (that makes the most sense)

    Even though it might be a year early I think Byron to the 88 is the right call considering the excitement he’s going to generate because all he’s done is win in both series thus far. The 88 as a brand doesnt need a stopgap guy like Kenseth, put the youngster in and give JR Nation someone to be excited to grow with.

  7. Looks like there are more than just Matt. This was on Jayski’s site.

    POTENTIAL Free-Agent Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Regulars AFTER the 2017 season
    #43-Aric Almirola (contract ends 2017)
    #37-Chris Buescher (on loan from RFR to JTG)
    #41-Kurt Busch (contract ends 2017)
    #77-Erik Jones (one year deal w/Furniture Row, heads to #20 JGR car)
    #5-Kasey Kahne (contract thru 2018 but sponsors leaving)
    #20-Matt Kenseth (contract ends 2017, won’t return to JGR)
    #2-Brad Keselowski (contract ends 2017)
    #1-Jamie McMurray (contract status unknown)
    #27-Paul Menard (usually works on a year-to-year deal)
    #10-Danica Patrick (uncertainty over sponsorship)
    #43-Bubba Wallace (contract status unknown)

  8. 88 or 5 is his next ride. Saw Kenseth eat dinner with Hendrick guys twice now, both in Daytona and Texas.

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