Matt Kenseth will reportedly make his return to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing with a very familiar organization: Roush Fenway Racing. The team is scheduled to make an announcement on Wednesday, though the news was first reported by SB Nation’s Jordan Bianchi on Monday.
Kenseth will split the #6 car with Trevor Bayne. Bayne, who currently sits twenty-eighth in points, has struggled throughout the first nine races of the season. He has yet to record a top-ten finish; although his best run is twelfth at Texas Motor Speedway, his average finish is 23.9. The 2011 Daytona 500 winner, Bayne took over the #6 full-time in 2015, but has failed to win any further races. Now downgraded to a part-time schedule, Bayne’s future with RFR is uncertain.
In 2000, Kenseth began his Cup career in Roush’s #17 car (currently driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.). With Roush, he won twenty-four races, including two Daytona 500s, and the 2003 championship. After the 2012 season, he departed RFR for Joe Gibbs Racing‘s #20 car. In five seasons with JGR, he scored fifteen wins and finished runner-up in the 2013 points battle to Jimmie Johnson.
During the 2017 season, JGR announced development driver Erik Jones would replace the 45-year-old Kenseth in the #20 for 2018, leaving him out of a ride. With no competitive options available, he elected to step away from full-time racing, though he did not declare it a retirement. In the year’s penultimate race, the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway (now ISM Raceway), Kenseth recorded an emotional victory.
“Everybody dreams of going out a winner,” he stated after the win. A week later, in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he finished what many expected to be his final Cup race in eighth. For the race, he drove a special throwback to his DeWalt paint scheme during his Roush days.
Bayne will remain in the #6 for the upcoming weekend’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway and the following week’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International speedway. Kenseth’s first race with RFR since 2012 is rumored to be the Kansas 400 at Kansas Speedway on 12 May. He recorded his only win at the track in 2013.