After losing his full-time ride with Joe Gibbs Racing and stepping away from the sport, never to be seen or heard from again, Matt Kenseth is back. And he’s reuniting with an old friend.
Kenseth returns to Roush Fenway Racing in a part-time role, where he spent his first 13 seasons at the Cup level. He will pilot the No. 6 currently driven by Trevor Bayne. Kenseth will debut at Kansas on May 12 and he will run the All-Star race.
So what does this mean? For starters, Bayne needs to start working on his resume. If you’re losing seat time to a veteran who, fair or unfair, doesn’t have a ride, the writing is on the wall. His days with Roush are numbered. Bayne is not a contender to win races and it’s unlikely he would point his way into the playoffs. While teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has shown the ability to run up front, Bayne simply has not. When Bayne shocked the racing world and won the 2011 Daytona 500, he seemed destined for success. Instead, the victory has become a blip in what has been a forgettable career.
As for Kenseth, he climbs back into a car with absolutely nothing to lose. He’s not racing for points. He’s not racing for a job. It’s not like he has to prove himself all over again. Kenseth is back to win and have fun. Nothing more. For a guy who won a Cup title and two Daytona 500s, this is a sweet gig.
As for Roush, this is a fairly easy decision. You bring back someone who is familiar with the company, can wheel it, and most important, can help your team. Roush Fenway is a clear number three among the Ford contingency behind Stewart-Haas and Team Penske. It wasn’t that long ago Roush was the standard bearer for blue oval brigade. I’m not suggesting Kenseth can get them back to that level, but I do believe he can make the entire organization better. Depending on how this part-time agreement goes, I think you strongly consider bringing Kenseth back full-time in 2019. That’s assuming, of course, Matt would even want to come back in that capacity. Sponsorship is always an issue, but find a way to make it work.
Kenseth made his first career Cup start in 1998 at Dover subbing for Bill Elliott. He immediately turned heads when he guided Elliott’s car to a sixth-place finish.
Kenseth earned his first win at the Coca-Cola 600 in 2000 and outdueled Dale Earnhardt Jr. for Rookie of the Year honors the same year. In his 13 seasons at Roush Fenway, Kenseth won 24 races, including the 2009 and 2012 Daytona 500. He also won Roush’s first Cup championship in 2003.
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