Earlier today Roush Fenway Racing has called back their old stalwart Matt Kenseth into their Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series program.
There’s a Roush legend within Mark Martin joining in with a fellow NASCAR.com journalist at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in marking a considerable return of a veteran who we missed from our race track at the end of 2017.
It’s great for the fans to see Kenseth adding strength & experience towards the established pack such as Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski & Clint Bowyer.
Who is Matt Kenseth?
- Used to be a long-time member of the Roush Fenway family where Kenseth drove the No.17 Ford for 13 years (2000-2012).
- In the past five seasons, he drove the No.20 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
- He’s also Carl Edwards’s team-mate at both Roush (2004-2012) and Joe Gibbs Racing (2015-2016) in an overall 11 seasons.
- Became the first driver to bring Roush his Cup Drivers’ Championship home in 2003.
- Won 39 career Cup Series races including Roush’s iconic 300th win at the Daytona 500 in 2012 as well as 181 Top 5s, 327 Top 10s and 20 pole awards.
- 2004 International Race of Champions Title (IROC).
- Made almost every season of the NASCAR Playoffs since its inception in 2004.
- However, the only time he failed to make the Playoffs was back in 2009 where he finished 14th in the Drivers’ Standings behind Kyle Busch.
- Overall, he’s one of six drivers in the sport’s 75-year inception of winning a Cup Championship, Rookie of the Year Award & Daytona 500.
What’s the story?
Matt Kenseth will share the No.6 Ford Fusion duties with Trevor Bayne on a limited-time basis.
That’s something similar to what Jeff Gordon shared with Alex Bowman in the No.88 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports two years ago.
So it’s not going to be Kenseth driving the No.17 car again like it used to be before just as if Gordon drove the famed No.24 car in his entire career.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. occupies that No.17 number plate on a full-time basis.
When will see Matt Kenseth return to the car?
When it comes to scheduling, there’s no exact timeline of how Bayne & Kenseth will drive the No.6 Ford Fusion between now & Homestead.
We will find that out at a later date.
However, what we do know is that Matt Kenseth will make his comeback at Kansas Speedway in two weeks time.
Since he won at Phoenix six months ago, Kenseth will also take part in the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway the following week after Kansas.
Wyndham Rewards will be Kenseth’s primary sponsor for this race & with Roush on a multi-year deal.
Regarding the No.6’s other sponsors such as Performance Plus & AdvoCare, that arrangement will remain unchanged with both drivers sharing duties behind the wheel.
Matt Puccia & Roman Pemberton will continue to serve Crew Chief & Spotter duties for both Bayne & Kenseth in the No.6 car.
What does it mean for Trevor Bayne?
It does not mean that Bayne will leave RFR as his contract expires after 2019.
But should Kenseth outperform Bayne throughout this year, then there may be a tectonic shift of releasing him early at the end of this season.
It also depends if the No.6 car sponsors AdvoCare & Performance Plus will stay onboard with the team.
You have to feel sorry for Trevor Bayne as he’s not going to complete all of the races this year.
In out of his nine starts, his season isn’t very consistent where he only finished as high as 12th at Texas three weeks ago.
The last time he ever posted a Top 10 finish was back at Martinsville six months ago.
Everyone’s hoping that 2018 could be the year for him to bounce back.
But his recent form remained unchanged or turned worse.
So Roush Fenway has to take action where they feel they lack experience after Greg Biffle left at the start of last season.
Hence Matt Kenseth is the man to answer their lack of success in recent years.
Matt Kenseth’s 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season.
- 36 events
- 10,113 of 10,581 laps completed, 95.6%
- 421 laps led
- One Win, 2.8%
- 10 Top 5 finishes, 27.8%
- 18 Top 10 postings, 50%
- Average Start: 10.4 & Finish: 14.2
- DNF: Six, Crash (Daytona 500, Phoenix, Atlanta, Daytona, Richmond & Kansas).
- He finishes 7th in the Drivers’ Standings with 2344 points.
It’s great to have a Cup Series veteran who boasts that caliber back on the race track after a farewell run at Homestead five months ago.
Although, his return to NASCAR will not be on a full-time basis nor aiming for the Championship.
But at least he wanted to help RFR return to victory lane which hasn’t happened Stenhouse’s win at Daytona in July 2017.
Apart from Kenseth & Kurt Busch’s championship runs in 2003 & 2004, Roush hasn’t been that successful in recent years.
Without the experience of Edwards, Biffle, and Kenseth, they seem to fall behind fellow Ford powerhouses such as Team Penske and now Stewart-Haas Racing.
That leaves Roush as Ford’s third best or a midfield team in which they want to get rid of that tag ASAP.
Experience comes first with Matt Kenseth
Today’s announcement is undoubtedly a wake-up call to take action on their abysmal season.
Instead, they chose to add more experience where the Stenhouse-Kenseth partnership will be their best match to close the gap such as the Team Penske & Stewart-Haas Racing boys over the next few months.
RFR can’t stress that enough after they’ve gone through two years of winless visits outside victory lane.
Stenhouse’s two wins last year may give them a bit of optimism.
However, they need extra support to ease the pressure on Stenhouse because you cannot rely on him alone.
All you want at the end of the day is having both cars finish as high as you can.
That’s how you want RFR to enjoy an impressive race weekend.
Anyways, welcome back to NASCAR Matt Kenseth.
Let’s hope RFR can use his reputation in a bid to return to the good old times like they once were before.
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