Reaction to Kenseth and Logano Moves Joe Gibbs Racing on Monday made official what has been rumored for months -- Matt Kenseth takes over the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2013. The move has been speculated since the June announcement that Kenseth and Roush Fenway Racing will part ways at the conclusion of the 2012 season. Also affected in this shakeup is Joey Logano, current driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, who soon thereafter was announced as the driver of the No. 20 Penske Racing Ford for next season.
NASCAR Race Hub, hosted by Steve Byrnes, has the latest on these moves tonight at 6 p.m. ET on SPEED. In the meantime, SPEED analysts Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond, as well as Wind Tunnel host Dave Despain, offer their perspective on the day’s big stories:
“Everybody wins. Jack Roush gets to move his rising star Ricky Stenhouse into a championship-caliber ride rather than lose him to another Cup team because there's no Roush Fenway Racing seat available. Matt Kenseth gets to see how someone other than Roush does business while remaining in a front-line car, and Home Depot gets a driver who far better fits the company profile than Joey Logano. And Logano going to the No. 22 means the image-conscious Roger Penske can finally clean up the 22 mess while Logano gets another chance to live up to his full potential. Kudos to all.”
--Dave Despain, host of Wind Tunnel
“Since Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte left Joe Gibbs Racing, the organization has had young, very aggressive drivers who show their emotions inside and outside the race car. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, for the most part, have been off the radar as far as out-of-car encounters are concerned this year. Although they’ve improved by leaps and bounds in this department and now don’t seem to need much work, Kenseth’s calm demeanor and personality will rub off on those two in a positive way.
“Joe Gibbs hiring Matt Kenseth was a no-brainer. When you have a sponsor like Home Depot that won as many races, not to mention championships, as they did with Tony Stewart, I’m sure it has been painful for them to watch the on-track success the other home improvement store has had the past few years. So, for a lot of reasons, it was an easy decision for Joe Gibbs to hire Kenseth. But on the flip side, it also was a no-brainer for Roger Penske to hire Joey Logano. I’m sure that a lot like Home Depot, Shell-Pennzoil had a huge hand in Penske’s driver selection for the No. 22. Shell-Pennzoil has been beat up pretty badly by Kurt Busch’s off-track antics and then the AJ Allmendinger saga, and they needed a squeaky clean driver. Joey fits that bill.
“Has Logano completely proven himself as a Cup driver? One part of me says ‘yes.’ He has done something Carl Edwards and Martin Truex, Jr. and Kevin Harvick haven’t this year – he has been to Victory Lane. I think Joey and Brad Keselowski, although both young, will be good teammates, and I know for a fact that Brad wanted Joey at Penske. For all parties involved, these two announcements make total sense, and I think both the 20 and the 22 will have much better results in 2013 than they have had recently.
“Furthermore, I think we all know, and probably no one more so than he, that Joey Logano was thrown into the No. 20 car approximately one year too soon. He won a race in his rookie year in 2009, but he barely was 18 years old with little-to-no Nationwide Series experience. And look at what Logano has been through at JGR – from living through last year not knowing where his crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, would be in 2012, to then agonizing over whether Carl Edwards would take his seat or not, and when that finally got resolved, the whole Matt Kenseth scenario started playing out. Regardless of what success Logano has had at JGR or what they were offering him as far as a ride was concerned, the best thing for Logano is a clean sheet of paper. He needs a fresh start after being yanked all over the place the past two years.”
--Larry McReynolds, SPEED analyst
“Matt Kenseth can fit in anywhere. He has a very easygoing personality, but he knows what he wants in a team and in a car. I view him much like Mark Martin because Kenseth brings experience and a calming effect to a team. He has won some big races and a championship, which Joe Gibbs Racing hasn’t done with its current stable of drivers. When a team has a veteran player on their squad, especially a championship-winning driver like Kenseth who can give them an idea of what comes next, it’s only a plus. Once a driver has been down that championship path and has that experience, if he or she shares it correctly, it’s invaluable to someone who hasn’t even been there.
“Sometimes owners of very young drivers look for someone who can help lead them and mentor them, but I don’t think Penske Racing needs that. They already have a leader in Brad Keselowski, who is a racer through and through. He grew up in a racing family that became successful through determination and hard work – not because they had a lot of money to put into their effort. I think background has made Brad the caliber leader and driver he has evolved into. I think Brad will push and drive Joey Logano a lot harder than Logano is used to. Brad wants a teammate he can help but also benefit from, and I think they’ll make a good complement.”
--Jeff Hammond, SPEED analyst