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Who could blame Kenseth for going to JGR?

By admin | September 5, 2012

By Richard Allen


In what was one of the worst kept secrets in recent NASCAR history, Matt Kenseth was named as the driver of the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the 2013 season on Tuesday. The 2003 Sprint Cup(then Winston Cup) champion had announced his intentions to leave longtime team Roush Fenway Racing weeks ago but had been unable to officially say where he was headed until now due to contractual limitations.

With all things considered in today’s racing climate, who could blame Kenseth for bolting?

When Jack Roush stated that he had been unaware Kenseth was even considering leaving, he revealed a great deal about why this driver had sought other opportunities. The longtime owner and highly respected gear head said that he concerned himself less with the business of racing more with the mechanics of racing.

Twenty-five years ago, the better cylinder head or the next great design in suspension components were difference makers in NASCAR racing. But now, it is sponsorship that drives the modern day sport. And RFR has proven to be lacking in the ability to secure sponsorship for its organization.

As Kenseth looked at the current landscape, he had to have noticed that JGR has three fully funded Sprint Cup teams as well as sponsored Nationwide Series cars under its umbrella while RFR can not make the same claims. The company Kenseth is leaving was unable prior to the season to secure fulltime backers for his #17 ride despite the fact that he is a former champion and Daytona 500 winner.

Also, RFR had to shut down its #6, the team that was the original Jack Roush entry into NASCAR and the organization’s flagship car, after last season due to a lack of funding. More, RFR could not keep the Nationwide car driven by Trevor Bayne on track despite the fact that he too is a former Daytona 500 winner.

While Kenseth has spent his entire career behind the wheel of the #17 Ford, he is leaving a team with an uncertain future in terms of financing for a team with Home Depot and Dollar General locked in place for 2013. Although RFR had assured Kenseth that he would have a place with them no matter what, there had to be a certain degree of concern in his mind as the potential of blank quarter panels loomed.

In the end, Matt Kenseth’s decision to leave RFR for the Gibbs organization may have been a difficult one, but it also was a no-brainer.

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9 Responses to “Who could blame Kenseth for going to JGR?”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    September 6th, 2012 at 7:31 am

    Just because Kenseth had to bolt doesn’t mean it will sit well with the Wisconsin Man who swears up and down on his Detroit Cars.

  2. mrclause Says:
    September 6th, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Just like it was a no brainer for Logano to jump to Penske. For as much as JGR stated they love Joey, they sure put a load of crap on the kid with two years of Carl and then Matt. Not much love shown by that IMO.

    I think Penske was the smarter of the two looking to the future, especially if Joey shows he can do the job as a lot of us believe he can. Gibbs pushed Joey far too quickly and he paid a price for that, too much was laid on the kid.

    It’s sad that as NASCAR became big business so much was lost. Roush was clueless when Matt became tired of the uncertainty, Gibbs loves Joey but wants to demote him, Sadler leaves a championship ride due to uncertainty. I guess some would say, it’s just business. It does make it difficult for the fans but then again it does help the die cast and t shirt concessions and that’s what’s important today.

  3. Sue Rarick Says:
    September 6th, 2012 at 9:02 am

    I think this is one of those win win situations for both Matt and Joey.

    Seriously, would you rather buy a power tool from Matt or Joey?

    On the other hand remember that Kyle was less than dominating when he was 22 years old and at Hendrick’s. The move may be the spark Joey needs.

  4. oldirtracker Says:
    September 6th, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I have been around this sport fora very long time and I dont see sliced bread as ever being more than a guy who can win on a perfect day, with a perfect car. I dont believe we do these kids any favor by bringing them along too fast and letting them think they are all that before they are seasoned enough for the big step, I also believe his dad is a detrement to the kids long term future. I think Hornish deserved the ride but who knows better than bucky Brad. Kenseth made the right move, he has been the best producer at Roush over the long haul and Cousin Carl gets the big contract and falls on his face.

  5. Jim Baker Says:
    September 6th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    The problem Matt will have is the ongoing engine problems at JGR. After 13 years with Yates engines, Matt won’t be very understanding of this.
    Mr Wisconsin guy can take heart to know that EVERY Toyota Tundra that has ever been built were either built in Princeton, Indiana or San Antonio, Texas. I know the money goes somewhere else when they sell them but at least the manufacturing jobs are here and not in China.

  6. Richard Says:
    September 6th, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    Tony; actually the Fords are built in Mexico, the Chevys in Canada. You can argue that Canada and Mexico are as “American” as the USA, but in our vocabulary “American” means “USA”. Toyota has faith in the USA and builds the Camry in the USA; in fact, Toyota builds more vehicles in the USA than any manufacturer. Good for you Matt, buy American (USA)!!!!!!

  7. Mattwrotethis Says:
    September 6th, 2012 at 11:39 pm

    At least I can shop at Home Depot again. Can’t stand Logano, but Matt Kenseth is the man. About time Home Depot put their logo on a decent driver’s hood again!

    As far as Penske goes, they should’ve given the ride to DeLana Harvick if they weren’t going to let Sam keep it. She already has the Shell/Pennzoil firesuit!

  8. Beentherebefore Says:
    September 7th, 2012 at 5:38 am

    The next Nascar Chebbie won’t even be built in Canada. It will be built in Australia!

  9. Russ Says:
    September 7th, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Engineers and cubic money. No driver can make a car go faster than the engineers have made it.
    SO you go with the team with the best resources. Since Hendricks doesn’t have any openings, Gibbs is probably his best bet.