Matt Kenseth Announcement Came Ahead of Schedule

Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin' the Tires

By Jerry Jordan, Editor
SPARTA, Ky. – Coach Joe Gibbs admitted he was caught off guard by Thursday’s announcement from Matt Kenseth that he wouldn’t be back at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018 but he told Kickin’ the Tires he wasn’t upset the news came out prematurely.

“I think we had a game plan but I think Matt, we love Matt so anything Matt does we are okay with,” Gibbs said, as he walked down pit road to his team’s car prior to the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

On Thursday, Kenseth, responding to questions from the media dropped the bombshell that he was out at JGR in 2018. But after letting the NASCAR world know that news, he appeared to have second thoughts, saying he may have “already said too much” when asked if he was the planned replacement for the No. 88 Chevrolet being vacated when Dale Earnhardt Jr. steps away from full-time racing at the end of the year.

“As of today, I do not have a job for next year,” Kenseth said. “I certainly hope to be racing. I think I’ve still got some wins left in me and hopefully can race for championships but right now, my goal is focusing on this year. Like I said, I don’t have a ride at this moment for next year. I haven’t really worked on anything really hard but I do not think I will have the option to work at JGR next year, unfortunately.”

“You know I’ve probably already said too much about what I am not doing next year,”

Gibbs said there are plans in place to announce who will replace Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota but without everything being in place, it isn’t the right time. The rumor around the garage is that Erik Jones will be coming back from Furniture Row Racing after being there on-loan for a year from JGR.

“We’ve still got a lot that, well, we are not in a spot right now where we can make any kind of announcement or anything. As soon as we can we will do that,” he said. “I think what we will do is probably, right away, make an announcement on what we are planning on doing but I think right now it is premature for me to say anything.”

Barney Visser, who owns Furniture Row, said he too, was caught off-guard by Kenseth announcement but his organization wasn’t ready to announce their plans.

“We don’t have anything concrete yet, nothing sealed and dealed (sic), nothing sealed yet,” Visser said.

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