Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
After months of speculation and rumors that had Matt Kenseth, currently driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, heading to Joe Gibbs Racing to oust Joey Logano from behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota, Kenseth and JGR made it official with a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Kenseth will, indeed drive the No. 20 next year, as Logano heads to Penske Racing to drive the No. 22 currently being driven by Sam Hornish Jr. since the indefinite suspension of A.J. Allmendinger in early July.
"Surprise," Kenseth said to kick off the Kenseth/Gibbs press conference.
At the end of the day, it was a really unique opportunity.
Kenseth, the 2003 Sprint (then-Winston) Cup champion, finds himself third in the championship points standings and in contention for another Sprint Cup title with Roush Fenway, the organization he's been with his entire Sprint Cup Series career, dating back to 2000. But the championship contender says that his departure from RFR and future plans won't distract from his championship efforts this year.
"I'm 100 percent committed to Roush until the first of the year," Kenseth said.
Although RFR team owner Jack Roush has struggled to find full funding for Kenseth's No. 17 car and rumors swirled that The Home Depot, primary sponsor of Gibbs' No. 20, was unhappy with Logano's performance, both parties -- Kenseth and Gibbs -- were adamant that sponsor issues played no part in Kenseth's decision to jump the Roush Fenway ship and JGR to take Kenseth over Logano.
Kenseth also said that he wasn't unhappy at RFR; he just thought Joe Gibbs Racing would be the best place to be for his future.
"This is about 2013 and beyond," Kenseth said. "At the end of the day, it was a really unique opportunity."
Kenseth kicked off his Sprint Cup career by claiming series Rookie of the Year honors in 2000, and then followed that up with a series championship a few years later. He has 22 race wins at the Cup level, all with Roush Fenway Racing.
Kenseth will join Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18, in the JGR stable next year. He'll become the third driver for the No. 20 team that Joe Gibbs Racing debuted in 1999.
Tony Stewart drove the No. 20 from 1999 until 2008, winning 33 races and Cup Series championships in 2002 and 2005. When he left to become part-owner at Stewart-Haas Racing, Logano climbed into the No. 20 and has since won two races, most recently at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., earlier this year.
Kenseth hopes that his gig at JGR will include some extra-curricular Nationwide racing.
"We've briefly discussed that," Kenseth said. "I hope to run some Nationwide races."