Matt Kenseth to step away from full-time competition after 2017
CONCORD, N.C. -- After 18 years in NASCAR's premier series, Matt Kenseth will be stepping away from full-time competition after the 2017 season.
Kenseth's decision, which was first reported by Nate Ryan of NBC Sports, became public knowledge Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway following weeks of speculation about the two-time Daytona 500 champion's racing future.
The 45-year-old driver told Ryan he decided to take some time off after the Martinsville race two weeks ago. When or if he will return remains in question, Kenseth said.
"I don't know what that means," he said. "I don't know if that's forever. I don't know if that's a month or I don't know if that's five months. I don't know if that's two years. Most likely when you're gone, you don't get the opportunity again. I just don't really feel like it's in the cards."
Joe Gibbs Racing announced in June that Monster Energy Cup Series rookie driver Erik Jones would replace Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota starting next season. Furniture Row Racing team owner Barney Visser later said his team would scale back to just one full-time team next season, eliminating one possible ride available for 2018.
Prior to the JGR-Jones announcement, Kenseth said he didn't anticipate returning to the team.
"I'm not really worried about it but as of today, I do not have a job for next year," Kenseth explained. "I don't have anything lined up at this moment for 2018. I haven't worked on anything
Kenseth joined JGR in 2013 after competing for Roush Fenway Racing for the first 13 years of his Cup series career. He flourished after joining the Toyota organization, winning seven races en route to his second runner-up finish in the points standings. In 648 starts in NASCAR's top series, Kenseth has 38 wins, 180 top