Kenseth to Gibbs? Penske?


Matt Kenseth doesn't have a 2013 ride. Could a Joe Gibbs car be in his future?

In lamenting the loss of driver Matt Kenseth from the Roush Fenway Racing fold and saying that in his opinion Kenseth "will be moving to the dark side," RFR co-owner Jack Roush appeared to shed considerable light on where Kenseth will be employed next.

“He will, from my point of view, be moving to the dark side. We will get through that. Personally we will be fine."

JACK Roush, whose organization fields Ford race cars, has long made no secret of his loyalty to American-based manufacturers and his disdain for Toyota, the NASCAR manufacturer whose headquarters are located in Japan. Joe Gibbs Racing, which fields Toyotas, already had appeared to be the frontrunner in the Kenseth sweepstakes. Roush's comment all but seemed to confirm it.

06/27/12 NASCAR point leader Matt Kenseth has a ride in place for 2013 and beyond, he told the Journal Sentinel on Wednesday in his first print media interview since announcing he would leave Roush Fenway Racing. When that deal is announced has yet to be undetermined, said Kenseth, who remains under contract to RFR through the calendar year.

The decision to leave was finalized in a meeting last week between the 2003 series champion from Cambridge and team owner Jack Roush. It could ultimately help both sides. The team announced that 24-year-old Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the 2011 Nationwide Series champion, would be promoted to Cup next year.

"There’s a lot of stuff through the season that’s probably led us to this point," Kenseth said. "There isn’t really a smoking gun, there really isn’t an inside story about a firing or an argument or really any of that.

"At the end of the day, I had an opportunity to go try something else. The timing all worked out. I think everything happens for a reason. Things just kind of lined up to maybe try something else in 2013 and beyond that I’m kind of excited about.

"On the Roush side, they had a chance to move Ricky up and get somebody different in there, groom the next driver and move their next driver up to the program.

"There’s some things that happened or didn’t happen, depending on how you wanted to look at it, through the season that probably got us to this point, but I think that probably stays behind closed doors."

Kenseth is expected to land at Joe Gibbs Racing which fields three Toyota teams, could add a fourth and has an aggressive new partner in Dollar General in its stable of sponsors. Dollar General bought some races this season from Home Depot. The home improvement company — which has backed Joey Logano since Tony Stewart left — has two years remaining on its contract with Gibbs.

06/26/12 It’s the end of June, so it’s about time that talk re-emerges about a fourth Sprint Cup team at Joe Gibbs Racing. With Joey Logano in a contract year and several high-profile free agents also available, JGR continues to entertain thoughts about a fourth car, the maximum allowed under NASCAR rules.

“Every year, we talk about it," JGR president J.D. Gibbs said Sunday before the Sonoma race. “We’ve talked about it the past three years. We can do it, but it’s not worth doing unless you have all the pieces in place. “We would love to do it. We have the facility. We have the ability. We’ve had some good conversations."

Former champions Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch are among the drivers without contracts for 2013, as are Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr. Sporting News

06/26/12 As we published early this morning in this rumor, see this announcement that Kenseth will leave RFR at the end of this year and be replaced by Stenhouse. Now the question is whether he is going to Joe Gibbs Racing or Penske Racing.

06/26/12 According to sources, employees at Roush Fenway Racing were informed this week that Matt Kenseth would not be returning in 2013.

06/25/12 Matt Kenseth declined to discuss his future with Roush Fenway Racing before Sunday's race at Sonoma, where there was rampant speculation he's been talking to other race teams. Kenseth acts as his own agent, and has been with Roush his entire career. But his #17 Ford has limited sponsorship, and team owner Jack Roush has been paying out of his own pocket to ensure Kenseth runs a full season.

"You know I don't talk about my contract," Kenseth said. "I'd like to have something to tell you, but I don't have anything to talk about right now. Until I have something to announce, I don't talk about it."

Everybody else was talking, though, and Kenseth's name this weekend was linked to both Joe Gibbs Racing, a Toyota team, and Penske Racing, which is moving from Dodge to Ford in 2013. Kenseth is a longtime Ford driver. JGR team president J.D. Gibbs declined to discuss any possible negotiations with Kenseth. JGR not only has room for expansion to a fourth car, but Joey Logano's status as driver of the #20 is currently unresolved. Logano is in the final year of his contract. "I'm not allowed to talk," he said.

Roger Penske was not at Sunday's race, but senior vice president of Penske Corp., Bud Denker said the team is not talking to Kenseth and is content with AJ Allmendinger in the #22. "Our expectations are that AJ will be in the car and Todd (Gordon) will be the crew chief next year," Denker said. "So we are not talking to Matt, that's confirmed." The Penske move to Ford has led to talk the organization could be a potential home for Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. or 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who are both in long-term contracts with Roush but are stymied because of sponsorship woes. ESPN/Associated Press

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