By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
*Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season for 24 drivers. We will release one driver preview per day over a 24-day stretch.
Years in Cup: 19
Career Wins: 38
Biggest Accomplishment: 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship (Then Winston Cup Series)
While change is common in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage, one driver that was not expecting a lot of change is Matt Kenseth. The only expected change for the 2017 season for Kenseth was the departure of Dollar General as a primary sponsor.
In January 2017, Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Carl Edwards, shocked the NASCAR and motorsports world when he announced his retirement. The announcement puts 2016 NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion Daniel Suarez in the No. 19 Arris Toyota Camry.
Kenseth will still pilot the No. 20 DeWalt Toyota Camry with Jason Ratcliff as his crew chief. DeWalt will sponsor 15 of the 36 races. Sponsorship for the other 21 races has yet to be announced as of the posting of this preview.
Another change Kenseth will experience will be the departure of his long-time spotter, ‘Crazy’ Chris Osborne who is moving over to spot for Suarez. The former spotter for Edwards, Jason Hedlesky, will move over to be on the spotters’ stand for Kenseth.
In 2016, Kenseth had two wins at Dover International Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He also had eight top fives, 19 Top 10s, and one pole.
Kenseth’s wins helped the veteran secure a spot in the 2016 Chase. It looked as if Kenseth would be competing for his second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship until the final laps of the 2016 Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway when he was hit in a chain-reaction incident that sent him spinning into the outside wall. Kenseth finished the 2016 season fifth in points.
Now Kenseth will look ahead to the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season where he and his team will challenge for his second championship. There is also an added pressure on Kenseth due to Erik Jones’ one-year stint at Furniture Row Racing, who is expected to return to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018, as well as the fact that Kenseth’s contract ends at the end of this season.