Matt Kenseth will make his triumphant return to the NASCAR Cup Series when the 2020 season resumes, as the 2003 NASCAR Cup Series Champion has been selected by Chip Ganssi Racing to be the replacement driver for Kyle Larson in the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE for the balance of the 2020 season.
Kenseth, the 48-year old Wisconsin native, will return to the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time since 2018, when he drove fifteen races in the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6. Prior to that Kenseth spent five years at Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 20, visiting victory lane 15 times in his five-year tenure at JGR.
Kenseth replaces former Chip Ganassi Racing protege Kyle Larson, who was released from his contract on April 14th, after the use of a racial slur in a public iRacing voice chat. Larson has since been indefinitely suspended by NASCAR, and will be required to attend sensitivity training before he is able to be reinstated.
“I have always said that when we have to fill a driver spot, that I owe it to our team, our partners and our fans to put the best available driver in the car. We are doing exactly that with Matt.” exclaimed Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “Throughout my time in NASCAR, I have always admired the way Matt Kenseth raced. He has proven to be a consistent winner, strong competitor, and respectful driver, and I’m glad we are able to add another NASCAR champion to the team for the remainder of this season.”
“This was an unexpected opportunity for sure. 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.” said Kenseth.
“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.”
McDonalds, Credit One Bank, Clover & Advent Health are all expected to honor their contacts, being primary sponsors of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42, with new driver Matt Kenseth.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenseth will be able to contest 32 of the scheduled 36 races in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Season, and will contest his first race when the series returns (expected to be mid-May, but no official confirmation from NASCAR as of yet.) NASCAR has not yet specified if Kenseth will be eligible for a playoff waiver, despite missing the first four races of the season.