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NASCAR Cup: Roush Fenway Racing makes Matt Kenseth’s hiring official

BRISTOL, TN – AUGUST 18: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DEWALT/Flexvolt Toyota, stands by his car during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 18, 2017 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

After more than a day of speculation of Matt Kenseth returning to Roush Fenway Racing to share with Trevor Bayne the seat behind the wheel of the No. 6 Ford in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Roush Fenway Racing made the news official Wednesday with an announcement at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Uptown Charlotte, N.C. With backing from Wyndham Rewards, Kenseth will drive the No. 6 for a partial schedule in 2018, making his first start May 12 at Kansas Speedway near Kansas City.

“We are very pleased to welcome Matt back to Roush Fenway,” team owner Jack Roush said. “Matt is one of the guys who really put us on the map of the racing landscape. He’s one of the most talented drivers to ever sit inside a race car, and his will to win, drive and determination have always embodied what we strive for as an organization.”

A detailed schedule outlining when Kenseth will drive the No. 6 and when Bayne will drive it for the remainder of the 2018 season has not been determined. For now, the deal between RFR and Kenseth is limited to the remainder of 2018. Kenseth’s turns in the car will be sponsored by Wyndham Rewards.

Kenseth was introduced at the press conference by another former Roush Fenway Racing driver, Mark Martin. Martin is credited with getting team owner Jack Roush to hire Kenseth as a Cup Series driver in 1998. While competing full-time in the NASCAR Busch (now-Xfinity) Series, Kenseth made his Cup Series debut as a fill-in for the injured Bill Elliott for one race in 1998. He, then, competed in five Cup races for RFR in 1999, in preparation for going full-time in the series in 2000.

Kenseth drove a No. 17 Ford for Roush Fenway through the 2012 season before making the move to Joe Gibbs Racing for 2013. After driving the No. 20 JGR Toyota for five seasons, Kenseth was, essentially, forced out of Joe Gibbs Racing to make room for Erik Jones. Kenseth last competed in the NASCAR premier series in the 2017 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November.

Kenseth has 39-career wins in the Cup Series, most recently at Phoenix International (now-ISM Raceway) last November. Twenty-four of his career wins came with RFR. He also won the 2000 Rookie of the Year and the 2003 Winston (now-Monster Energy NASCAR) Cup Series championship during his time with RFR.

“It’s a great feeling to return to where it all started for me in the Cup Series,” Kenseth said. “There aren’t many people who have been more influential in my racing career than Jack Roush and Mark Martin. For them to believe in me today means almost as much as it did when they believed in me the first time, 20 years ago. I’m excited to get to the shop, get back to work, and help Roush Fenway return to prominence in the NASCAR Cup Series.”

Bayne has been the full-time driver of the No. 6 since 2015. In 117 starts in the car, he has four top-fives and 13 top-10 finishers. Bayne has one career win in the 2011 Daytona 500 while running a partial schedule for Wood Brothers Racing.

Roush Fenway Racing fields two cars, full-time, in the Cup Series, also fielding the No. 17 Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Stenhouse claimed his first two career Cup Series wins last year at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Those were the first two wins for RFR since two Carl Edwards wins in 2014 at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Edwards followed Kenseth to Joe Gibbs Racing the following season.

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Posted by on April 25, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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