Still without a win halfway through the 2017 season, Matt Kenseth now has other things to worry about as the second half of the year plays out, like where he might be driving next season and beyond.
During a Friday morning media session at Kentucky Speedway, Kenseth was asked about his plans for 2018 as his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing expires at season’s end and the 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion was quick to mention that he didn’t think that he’d be in the mix to stay in his current ride in the No. 20 car.
“As of today I do not have a job for next year,” said Kenseth. “I certainly hope to still be racing. I think I got some wins left in me and hopefully can race for championships. Right now my focus is on finishing up this year. As we talked about, it’s been kind of a slow start. It has not been a good year at all. Not nearly up to my standards or my team’s standards. You know really trying to get back to victory lane. Hopefully get qualified for the playoffs here and have a shot at a championships is pretty much focus at this point.”
“Like I said, I don’t have a ride at this moment for next year. I haven’t really worked on anything real hard. I do not think I will have the option to race at JGR next year, unfortunately.”
Heading into Kentucky, Kenseth is going on a nearly year-long winless streak and sits 11th in points with three top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes through the first 17 races of the year, teetering on the edge of playoff contention.
In six previous starts at Kentucky, Kenseth has one win (2013), three top-five finishes, six top-10 finishes, 40 laps led, and an average finish of 5.2, which is the highest among active drivers.
Kenseth’s revelation that he will be out at JGR got the rumor mill churning on where the 38-time winner in the Cup Series might land, given that he has more years behind him in the driver’s seat than years ahead of him.
Should Kenseth land another ride for next season, he does have a few options, from taking over for the retiring Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports to staying in the Toyota camp and swapping rides with Erik Jones and moving over to Furniture Row Racing. Anything is possible at this point as Silly Season is at full speed.
On Thursday, Jones noted that he did not know what the plan was for him and JGR for next year and he was just focused on finishing out his rookie season in the Cup Series on a high note.
“I’m just driving,” said Jones. “For the most part, for me, whether – I don’t know where I’m going to be yet. They haven’t let me know. For me, I’ve been really happy at Furniture Row (Racing) and it’s been a steady group of guys over there that I think work really well together. I don’t yet. Hopefully I know soon. You know it’s kind of getting down to that point. I guess it’s July now, so I’m sure we’ll have an answer here soon.”