|08/29/19||DIBENNEDETTO NASCAR'S ROCKY BALBOA|
|06/26/19||FROM JOURNEYMAN DRIVER TO HALL OF FAMER|
|06/18/19||WINNERS NOT ADDING UP|
|05/25/19||THE 600 IS STILL A CROWN JEWEL|
|05/15/19||NEXT TWO WEEKS COULD BE TOO GOOD|
|04/10/19||WALTRIP A TWO-WAY HALL OF FAMER|
KENSETH NEEDS A JOB…HAS SOME FUN
Matt Kenseth walked into the media center at Kentucky Speedway last Friday morning and I figured it was just going to be a garden variety press conference, but the 45-year-old driver had other ideas. Kenseth picked up the microphone and dropped a bomb.
"I'm not really worried about it, but as of today I do not have a job for next year," he stated. "I do not think I will have the option to return to race at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) unfortunately."
The words were spoken quietly, but man did it create a lot of noise. Silly season just got a lot more interesting and Kenseth had clearly jumped the gun, messing around with the timeline Gibbs was working on to let everyone know what his team was going to do in 2018. He would have preferred Kenseth not go public, but there was no downside for the former Monster Energy Cup Series champion to let the cat out of the bag and have a little fun at Gibbs expense. What was "Coach" going to do? Fire him?
Even Gibbs understood and could chuckle about it. "We had a game plan," he laughed. "We love Matt so anything Matt does we're okay with it." Gibbs added, "We're not in a spot right now where we can make any kind of announcement. As soon as we can do that, we'll do that."
That will probably be Erik Jones driving the #20 Toyota. He's currently over at Furniture Row Racing, but everyone knew Jones was only on loan from Gibbs. If Carl Edwards didn't retire so suddenly it looked to me the plan was for Jones to return to Gibbs, and then Daniel Suarez would take his seat over at FRR in the #77. That way Suarez could start getting his feet wet on NASCAR's top series and JGR could wait patiently until Edwards wanted to call it quits. In any scenario as the oldest guy on the team, Kenseth was going to be the odd man out.
So what's next for him? The hot rumor has Kenseth heading over to Hendrick Motorsports to keep the seat warm in the 88, which Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is vacating, and buy time for William Byron to gain at least one more season of experience before moving up to Cup. While he wouldn't confirm, Junior did give Kenseth a stamp of approval. "Matt will get a job," said Junior. "He's so good, and so talented that he'll be in a great car with a great opportunity next year - no less than what he has this year."
It was laughable to hear Kenseth say at Kentucky, "I probably have already said too much about what I'm not doing next year." That