Matt Kenseth is officially back in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Furthermore, he is back with Roush Fenway Racing.
After being reported about a possible reunion on Monday, the 46-year-old Kenseth officially confirmed his return to the team on Wednesday.
“It’s a great feeling to return to where it all started for me in the Cup Series,” Kenseth stated. “There aren’t many people who have been more influential in my racing career than [team owner] Jack Roush and [former teammate] Mark Martin. For them to believe in me today means almost as much as it did when they believed in me the first time, 20 years ago. I’m excited to get to the shop, get back to work, and help Roush Fenway return to prominence in the NASCAR Cup Series.”
Kenseth will split the #6 car with Trevor Bayne, who had been driving the car full-time since 2015. Bayne is currently twenty-eighth in points and has struggled throughout the first nine races of the season. Despite a twelfth-place run at Texas Motor Speedway, he has yet to score a top-ten finish with an average finish of 23.9. The 2011 Daytona 500 winner has failed to win any further races since.
Martin, who drove Roush’s #6 from 1988 to 2006, was instrumental in convincing his team owner to sign Kenseth.
“I don’t know that I can explain to you what it means to look at that car and know my favorite driver of all-time will be driving it,” Martin commented. “I have a lot, a lot, of sweat equity and pride in this organization.”
With Kenseth, the #6 will receive sponsorship from Wyndham Hotel Group’s Wyndham Rewards program in a multi-year agreement with RFR.
“Having a globally recognized name like Wyndham come on board is big for all of us—not just Roush Fenway, but for the sport as a whole,” Kenseth commented. “It says a lot that they chose this team to carry their colors, and I’m going to do my best to make sure we perform for them, both on and off the track.”
In 2000, Kenseth began racing full-time in the Cup Series with Roush, driving the team’s #17 Ford. In the car, he won twenty-four races, including the Daytona 500 in 2009 and 2012, and the 2003 championship. He is the last driver to win the title under the original season-long points system. After the 2012 season, he departed RFR for Joe Gibbs Racing, driving the #20 Toyota. In five seasons with JGR, Kenseth won fifteen times and finished runner-up in the 2013 points battle to Jimmie Johnson, a season in which the Wisconsinite recorded a career-high seven wins. He was replaced by Erik Jones for the 2018 season.
Bayne is expected to remain in the #6 for the next two races at Talladega Superspeedway and Dover International Speedway, with Kenseth making his return at Kansas Speedway on 12 May. He scored his only win at the track in 2013.