Kenseth reflects on difficult NASCAR season; Details plans to drive in 2021
Following the 2017 season, Matt Kenseth was forced into early NASCAR retirement. Joe Gibbs Racing was unable to secure sponsorship for the veteran driver and brought in Erik Jones to pilot the No. 20.
In 2018, Kenseth fielded a part-time ride with Roush Fenway Racing. He shared the seat of the No. 6 with Trevor Bayne where he finished 6th in his final race with the team in the championship finale at Homestead.
In 2019, Kenseth disappeared from the NASCAR spotlight. He returned to his roots, winning late model races on short tracks across the country.
In 2020, Kyle Larson lost his ride after using a racial slur in an online race. While attempting to reach his personal spotter on a private audio channel, the phrase was instead sent out to the public airwaves.
Larson was suspended by NASCAR and Chip Ganassi Racing. Soon after, sponsors began to flee and Larson was fired from CGR. Matt Kenseth was hired to fill the seat of the No. 42 machine.
In 2020, Kenseth picked up just two top-10 runs with the team. His opening race at Darlington Raceway brought a 10th place run. Later in the year, he finished 2nd at Indianapolis.
For 2021, Ross Chastain has been selected to drive the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Where’s Matt Kenseth going in 2021?
“I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that my days in professional racing — at least full-time professional racing — are over,” Matt Kenseth told the Wisconsin State Journal.
“I look forward to doing late model stuff or IMSA, or something like that. A little bit here or there. As far as NASCAR racing full-time or professional racing, those days are behind me.”
2020 was an odd year for sports. NASCAR operated on a limited capacity, the three day shows were cut to just a single day. To make that happen, three days of practice and qualifying were mostly removed from the weekend schedules. That made things difficult for a driver that came out of retirement to field a totally different package with a new team.
“We didn’t have practice all year, which is the craziest thing ever,” Kenseth said.
“I never dreamed I would run every single race without getting a chance to get in the car, work with my team and make changes, and work together and try to get the car better.”
“I was very disappointed with the results, that I wasn’t able to do better and help the team more. Finishing second at Indy was the highlight of our year,” Kenseth said.
Back to family
Kenseth is looking forward to a year similar to 2019, where he returned to his roots and ran late models on a pick and choose basis.
“I will say that 2019 was one of the best years of my life,” Kenseth said.
“I had tons of free time, and had a great time with Katie and the kids. There was no stress and we spent the whole summer together doing whatever we wanted to do.
“I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity at Ganassi and thankful that I did it. I was kind of getting the itch to do race again. So there was a lot of good that came about.”
Matt Kenseth has won 39 races in the NASCAR Cup Series. His Xfinity career began in 1996 while his full time NCS career began in 2000. Kenseth has run a total of 985 races across the NCS and NXS divisions, he never started a truck series event.