Matt Kenseth Confirms He Only Came Out of Retirement for the 2020 NASCAR Season

Published 11/19/2020, 7:14 AM EST
DOVER, DELAWARE – OCTOBER 06: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Clover Chevrolet, celebrates winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)


When the 2017 season concluded, Matt Kenseth effectively retired from NASCAR racing. When he retired, he boasted of 697 starts, 39 victories, and a championship.

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However, the off-track drama involving Kyle Larson unfolded and resulted in his dismissal. Owing to this, the Chip Ganassi Racing team had to call up Kenseth on short notice to replace him.

Even after a year of intermittent racing, and a full year away, Matt Kenseth never lost his touch. To be precise, he delivered a solid 10th place finish in his first race at Darlington. Since then, his form went up and down, only breaking into the Top-10 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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With Ross Chastain driving the No. 42 next season, Kenseth announced that he will continue racing on a part-time basis. In addition to that, he is eager to race in the late model format or in the IMSA.

He said to the media, “I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that my days in professional racing — at least full-time professional racing — are over.”

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How many accolades does Matt Kenseth have?

As it turns out, Kenseth is the last driver to win the Cup title before the start of the playoff era. In addition to that, he won the Daytona 500 twice, as well as one win at the Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600.

In his final season, he took his last triumph at Phoenix, before Erik Jones took his seat. Back in 2018, though, he reunited with Roush Fenway Racing for 15 races, registering two Top-10s.

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Nov 1, 2020; Martinsville, VA, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) and NASCAR Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth (42) during the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Kenseth thought that he was done with racing, for good. So when the Chip Ganassi Racing team recruited him as Larson’s replacement, many were surprised. However, Chip Ganassi insisted that he had made the right call in acquiring the veteran’s services.

“Throughout my time in NASCAR, I have always admired the way Matt Kenseth raced,” Ganassi said. “He has proven to be a consistent winner, strong competitor, and respectful driver, and I’m glad we are able to add another NASCAR champion to the team for the remainder of this season.”

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Now, Kenseth can simply kick back and relax, knowing that his job is done. Of course, the racing bug has not fully left, so he will be there for the odd race or two.

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Dhruv George

11311 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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