Now, Jack Roush hints at management type role at Roush-Fenway Racing for Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth
In 2000, Matt Kenseth made his first full-time start in the NASCAR Cup Series. That opportunity came with Roush Fenway-Racing. He picked up a win that year at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
12 years later, Kenseth was under contract re-negotiations with Roush. Kenseth was under the impression that things were moving too slow. To the surprise of Jack Roush, he signed a deal with another team.
Kenseth made a massive career change. He jumped ship on Ford and Jack Roush. He instead went to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing, piloting the #20 machine. In his first year with Gibbs, Kenseth claimed 7 wins and ran 2nd in the series standings.
Following the 2018 season, Matt Kenseth was essentially kicked to the curb as Gibbs couldn’t find a sponsor to get behind Kenseth. Instead, they brought in the rookie driver of Erik Jones to fill the #20 car.
Now, Kenseth has returned in a part-time gig for 2018. If things go well, they expect to place Kenseth in a car full-time for 2019. But, it wasn’t just the driving aspect that has brought Matt Kenseth back to NASCAR.
“As much as the driving part, I think the rest interests me,” Kenseth says. “I haven’t been home long enough to be bored or dying to go do something. There’s a part of me that misses something. Obviously, when you’ve been a competitor your whole life.”
“You’re not going to drive forever. The part about still being competitive and trying to make something better. And trying to figure out how to be better than the next guy and go beat everybody is still there whether you’re in the car or not.”
What does Kenseth mean by “the rest.” He’s hinting at a way to remain competitive beyond his years from the cockpit.
“We see a potential role for Matt being involved with the company past his driving,” Jack Roush explained. “We haven’t talked much about that. But, certainly we feel like he’s come home to us. He’s a significant part of our legacy and our history, as is Mark.”
“We’re anxious to keep them involved if we can. At some level.”
Matt Kenseth has been on the free-agent list since July 2017. That’s almost a full year for things to come together with Jack Roush. So what took so long…
“When I contacted Matt to see if he had any interest in getting involved with a limited program with the objectives we set forth — His question for me was, why did it take so long for me to call.”
Why did it take you so long to call Matt?
“Well, I had still a little bit of the rawness over the fact that he left me when he did. We had another championship out there. I thought that we could have had in short order. I missed that. So, it took me a little while to get over that.”
Matt Kenseth will drive the Wyndam Rewards #6 part-time in 2018. He and Trevor Bayne will share the seat for the remainder of the season. The first race for Kenseth will be at Kansas Speedway and another will follow in the All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The now named Roush-Fenway Racing opened it’s doors in 1988. Team co-owner Jack Roush turned 76 on April 19th.
Related: Matt Kenseth’s final race