SPARTA, Ky. — Matt Kenseth opened the first can of ‘Silly Season’ worms in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage on Friday, openly admitting that he is unsure of his future beyond this year.
Kenseth, whose contract is up at the end of the season, confirmed in a morning media availability that he is currently rideless for 2018, choosing to focus on his current performance rather than the hunt for his potential next opportunity.
“I’m not really worried about it but as of today, I do not have a job for next year,” said Kenseth. “I hope to still be racing. I think I got some wins left in me and hopefully can race for championships.”
The 45-year-old Wisconsin native joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013 and has had a torrid run of success in the No. 20 Toyota, scoring 14 of his 38 Cup victories and making the playoffs each year..
However, the 2003 Cup champion is winless so far this year, as is all of Joe Gibbs Racing through the season’s first 17 races, and Kenseth acknowledged the organization’s sluggish first half in his remarks.
“It’s been a slow start,” he said. “It has not been a good year at all. I just want to try to get back to victory lane and qualify for the playoffs and have a shot at the championship.”
“I don’t have anything lined up at this moment for 2018. I haven’t worked on anything real hard. But I do not think I will have the option to return to race at JGR next year, unfortunately.”
Kenseth sits 11th in the regular season Cup point standings and is currently the bubble driver on the provisional playoff grid, with just a three-point cushion over Joey Logano, who has a win at Richmond but cannot use it to qualify for the postseason due to penalties assessed earlier in the year.
If he were to leave Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the year, Kenseth’s likely replacement is 21-year-old Erik Jones, who drives part-time for JGR in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, but was loaned out to Furniture Row Racing for his rookie season this year on a one-year deal.
That being said, Kenseth could well land at another top-tier team for the upcoming season. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is retiring from NASCAR Cup Series competition at the end of the year and his No. 88 Chevrolet could become one of the most targeted destination seats at the premier level.
But at least for now, it’s unchartered and unsure waters for Kenseth as he begins to race for a job.
When pressed further on where he might race next year, if anywhere, Kenseth would not delve any deeper into the subject.
“I already probably said too much about what I’m not doing next year,” he said. “At this point I don’t have anything going on for next year.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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