Matt Kenseth will return to the NASCAR Cup Series once the sport returns from its hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak, replacing Kyle Larson in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42, CGR announced today, April 27.
Kenseth replaces Larson after the former driver of the No. 42 was released for saying a racial slur on an iRacing event a few weeks ago.
“I think Matt gives us the best chance to win, run up front and compete for wins,” team owner Chip Ganassi told The Associated Press amid the announcement. “I’ve always gone with the mantra of trying to take the best driver available, and he’s the best driver available right now. And he brings something to our sponsors that they need right now. Stability. No baggage. Family man. Daytona 500 winner. Championship winner.”
Kenseth last drove in the Cup Series in 2018, splitting Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 with Trevor Bayne. In 15 starts, he nabbed two top 10s, both occurring in the final two races of the season.
He last drove full time in the series in 2017, piloting Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 to one win, 10 top fives and 18 top 10s.
The move reunites Kenseth with former Roush teammate Kurt Busch, who drives CGR’s No. 1.
“This was an unexpected opportunity for sure,” Kenseth said later in a team release. “I can’t say racing was even on my radar two weeks ago. After spending some time thinking about it and all the unique circumstances surrounding all of us right now, it just seemed the timing and the opportunity was perfect to come back.
“I know I have a lot of work ahead of me to get up to speed in a relatively short period of time, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m excited to work with Kurt again and to meet all my new CGR team members, and I’m really looking forward to getting back in a Chevrolet.
“In 1988, I started my career in a Camaro and I can’t wait to finally race a Chevy in the Cup Series. I also need to thank Chip and all his partners for this opportunity. Hopefully we will be on the track soon.”
In 665 starts, Kenseth has 39 wins to his credit and was the 2003 Cup champion.