SPARTA, Ky.— As silly season has ramped up in NASCAR, Matt Kenseth’s name has been brought up as a driver who could leave his current organization, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).
"As of today, I do not have a job for next year," Kenseth stated Friday morning in his media availability. "I don't think I'll have the option to race at JGR next year.”
The statement from Kenseth confirmed rumors around the garage that Kenseth would be leaving JGR and racing for a different organization come 2018.
Who replaces Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota Camry? That person could potentially be Erik Jones. When Jones was signed on at Furniture Row Racing for 2017, Joe Gibbs was adamant that the deal with Jones and Barney Visser was for one year only.
Just yesterday, Jones was unable to comment on what his plans for 2018 are:
“I’m just driving. For the most part, for me, whether – I don’t know where I’m going to be yet. They haven’t let me know. For me, I’ve been really happy at Furniture Row (Racing) and it’s been a steady group of guys over there that I think work really well together,” said Jones. “I don’t yet. Hopefully I know soon. You know it’s kind of getting down to that point. I guess it’s July now, so I’m sure we’ll have an answer here soon.”
Where will Kenseth land? How many years does Kenseth have left? The speculation is that Kenseth would be replacing Dale Earnhardt, Jr in the No. 88 at Hendrick Motorsports as a placeholder for William Byron in 2019. If Jones is leaving Furniture Row for JGR, Kenseth could potentially move to the No. 77 Toyota Camry.
When asked if it was a possibility, Kenseth stated, “I probably already said too much about what I’m not doing next year, so I don’t really have anything to talk about what I am doing at this point. At this point, I don’t have anything going on next year and am trying to get focused on running better and winning races.”
Despite the rumors and looking for a ride, Kenseth is focused on his performance in 2017.
“It’s been a slow start,” Kenseth 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.
The landscape of JGR has changed over the past two years. With the vanishing of Carl Edwards, Daniel Suarez was brought up from the Xfinity Series, although most people suspected it would be Jones before Suarez at JGR.
With the comments from Kenseth, the domino about silly season is about to fall.