O’Reilly Auto Parts 500


By John Sturbin

Free agent Matt Kenseth has come to the realization he could be counting down the final three starts of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.

Kenseth, who announced this summer he would not be returning to Joe Gibbs Racing, confirmed Saturday he is not actively searching for another ride for 2018.

“Yeah. That’s accurate,” said Kenseth, who will drive the No. 20 XFINITY Team USA Toyota Camry in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500. “I mean I just ­– yeah that’s pretty accurate. I’m not committing to anything for 2018. I’m just gonna…I don’t know, I mean the ‘retirement’ word doesn’t really make a lot of sense in this sport really because there’s, it’s not like the NFL where you get a pension if you officially retire or you do any of that stuff.

“Mostly it’s (retirement) for people like Junior (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) that got to fill the seat and have a sponsor and all that stuff. For me it’s just different because I didn’t really have that option – my seat got filled before…before any of that so there’s really no reason to talk about it.”

Kenseth’s decision originally was reported on NBC Sports Network.

JGR will field Erik Jones in the No. 20 Toyota next season, a move that will take the Cup rookie from the No. 77 Sport Clips Toyota at Furniture Row Racing.

“I’ll just take some time off, whatever that means,” said Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion while driving Fords fielded by Roush Fenway Racing. “I don’t know if that’s a year, two years, three months, four months – I mean you never know what happens. Maybe something comes along that really makes you excited and it feels like it’s going to be a fit, you might go do. Certainly not going to rule that out, but for now, I’m not making any plans for 2018. I just plan on having some time off.”

Kenseth will start 35th among 40 entries in Sunday’s 334-lap/501-miler around TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile oval. Kenseth was 10th-fastest during Saturday afternoon’s final practice at 190.197 mph after 15 laps. The Wisconsin native will be making his 30th Cup start in Fort Worth, where he won the 2002 race. Kenseth’s lone pole at TMS was registered in November 2014. Kenseth, who finished 16th in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 here on April 9, has led a total of 854 laps around TMS.

The 2017 season will continue next weekend at Phoenix Raceway and conclude at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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