Veteran driver Matt Kenseth returns to the team he won 2003 NASCAR Cup Series title with to drive part-time this season and help improve on-track performance for the Roush Fenway Racing.
One week after announcing long-term extensions for three primary partners for the No. 17 car, Roush Fenway Racing officially announced the return of Kenseth during a news conference Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte (N.C.).
Kenseth was introduced by NASCAR Hall of Famer and former Roush Fenway Racing driver Mark Martin.
“It’s a great feeling to return to where it all started for me in the Cup Series,” said Kenseth. “There aren’t many people who have been more influential in my racing career than Jack Roush and Mark Martin. For them to believe in me today means almost as much as it did when they believed in me the first time, 20 years ago.
“I’m excited to get to the shop, get back to work, and help Roush Fenway return to prominence in the NASCAR Cup Series.
The team also announced Wyndham Resorts will sponsor Kenseth when he is behind the wheel of the No. 6 Ford during his limited schedule this season. His first race back will be May 12 at Kansas Speedway.
"Having a globally recognized name like Wyndham come on board is big for all of us—not just Roush Fenway, but for the sport as a whole,” said Kenseth. “It says a lot that they chose this team to carry their colors, and I’m going to do my best to make sure we perform for them, both on and off the track.”
Team co-owner Jack Roush and team president Steve Newmark said the opportunity to bring back Kenseth is more than just about driving the No. 6 car on a part-time basis.
“We see a potential role for Matt with the company past him driving, said Roush.
Plans for the future
Newmark also expanded on Roush’s remarks about the immediate and future plans for Kenseth.
“Our view is that Matt will be with us for a long time and our goal is for Matt to continue to drive well into the the future,” said Newmark. “We're still working on when Trevor will drive and he will continue to be in the car along with Matt and we have an open dialogue with Trevor and our partners and work together to figure out the best way to excel on the track.”
For Kenseth this is also not a one-year opportunity to make a quick-fix for the team.
“There are alot of things we’re working through right now but I think our hope is to continue this long term,” he said.
Martin, who has been involved with Roush Fenway Racing behind the scenes for over a year, feels Kenseth is the right driver to come in and evaluate the equipment and performance from behind the wheel and at the shop.
“Matt is the right guy for the job,” said Martin. “He knows about race cars and won races in different (types of) race cars. He knows race cars and he's enough old school to bring that to the table and enough new school to be able to adapt.”
Roush was also happy to have both Martin and Kenseth involved in team competition.
“They were the best two guys at finding speed in the cars and Mark and Matt were the best at it,” said Roush. “These are the best drivers I've had out of the 50 I've had to find speed in the car. They can brings things to the attention of the crew chief.”
Nothing to prove
Kenseth was out of a ride at the end of the 2017 season when Joe Gibbs Racing decided to move Erik Jones into the No. 20 car. Kenseth said he wants to win races as soon as he gets in the car, but he also feels he can have a bigger impact on the team.
“I feel like I don't have anything to prove (driving) but every time you go to the track you want to win,” said Kenseth. “This opportunity is about as much of my future roll than just the driving. If it was just the driving I would have probably been at Daytona.
“This is something that can be four or five years down the road. I feel like I can be an asset more than just driving. I'm really competitive too and if I’m not in the car I want to help Ricky and Trevor (Bayne), too.”
Kenseth will share the No. 6 seat with Bayne, who’s been driving the No. 6 full-time since 2015 when he moved over from the Wood Brothers. Kenseth has yet to talk to Bayne but plans on doing that soon.