NASCAR: Matt Kenseth says he's done racing full-time

Nick Bromberg
·3-min read

Matt Kenseth looks to be officially calling it quits on his full-time racing career.

The 2003 Cup Series champion was tabbed to replace Kyle Larson at Chip Ganassi Racing after Larson was fired in April for uttering the N-word during a virtual race. Kenseth, 48, ran the final 32 races of the 2020 season as Larson’s replacement. But CGR said this fall that Ross Chastain would take over the No. 42 car in 2021.

In an interview with the Wisconsin State-Journal, Kenseth said that he still looked forward to continuing his racing career. But he probably wouldn’t be back in NASCAR in a full-time capacity ever again.

“I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that my days in professional racing — at least full-time professional racing — are over,” said Kenseth, who posted one top-five and two top-10 finishes during the 2020 season.

“I look forward to doing late model stuff or IMSA, or something like that. A little bit here or there. As far as NASCAR racing full-time or professional racing, those days are behind me.”

The 2020 season was a lackluster one for Kenseth. He never really got a grasp on NASCAR’s current rules and wasn’t competitive at all outside of a third-place finish at Indianapolis in July. His only other top-10 finish came in his first race as Larson’s replacement in May.

Kenseth ended the season 28th in the standings. Yeah, he ran four fewer races than all the drivers running full-time, but it figured that he would have performed better than that.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 27: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #42 McDonald's Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on September 27, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth had just one top-five finish and two top 10s in 2020. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Matt Kenseth has 39 Cup Series wins

The final race of the 2020 season was the third unofficial final race of Kenseth’s career. His Cup career appeared to be over after 2017 when Joe Gibbs Racing signed Erik Jones to drive the No. 20 car in place of Kenseth.

Kenseth got a low-key sendoff at Homestead that season as he didn’t have a ride in place for 2018. But Roush Racing tabbed him months later to drive part-time in its No. 6 car as Trevor Bayne was struggling.

Kenseth drove in the final race of the 2018 season without a ride in NASCAR in 2019. And he spent the 2019 season out of NASCAR entirely. That’s why it was a bit of a shock when CGR picked him to drive the No. 42 after Larson was fired.

And now it appears that Kenseth’s NASCAR career could really be over for good. While we’ve learned by now to never say never on a part-time ride in NASCAR again for Kenseth, he’s not going to be running for a title ever again.

Kenseth is going to be a shoo-in for the NASCAR Hall of Fame when he’s eligible. He (presumably) ends his NASCAR career with 39 wins and the 2003 title. That was the final season before NASCAR instituted its 10-race playoff format in 2004.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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