CONCORD, N.C. — Chip Ganassi Racing has lured NASCAR Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth out of retirement to drive the No. 42 Chevrolet for the remainder of the NASCAR Cup Series season.
The news was first reported by the Associated Press.
Kenseth replaces Kyle Larson in the No. 42 Chevrolet. Ganassi fired Larson two weeks ago after Larson used a racial slur during an iRacing livestream.
“I think Matt gives us the best chance to win, run up front and compete for wins,” team owner Chip Ganassi told the Associated Press. “I’ve always gone with the mantra of trying to take the best driver available and he’s the best driver available right now. And he brings something to our sponsors that they need right now. Stability. No baggage. Family man. Daytona 500 winner. Championship winner.”
Kenseth is among the best NASCAR competitors of the last two decades. In 665 series starts he earned 39 victories, including two Daytona 500 triumphs, a Coca-Cola 600 victory during his rookie season and a victory in the Southern 500.
He won the 2003 NASCAR Cup Series championship driving for Roush Fenway Racing, whom he drove for from his rookie season in 2000 through the 2012 season.
Upon leaving Roush Fenway Racing, Kenseth joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013 and had a career resurgence, winning seven races in his first year with the team. In five seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing he won an additional 15 races before the team opted not to renew his contract at the end of the 2017 season.
After failing to find a ride for the start of the 2018 season, Kenseth landed a part-time deal to drive the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing midway through the year. He made 15 starts for the team, earning a best finish of sixth in the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
While he hasn’t driven a NASCAR Cup Series entry since the 2018 finale, Kenseth has raced occasionally at the short-track level. He won the 2019 edition of the Slinger Nationals at Slinger (Wis.) Super Speedway, his eighth victory in the annual event.
“This was an unexpected opportunity for sure,” Kenseth said in a press release from the team. “I can’t say racing was even on my radar two weeks ago. After spending some time thinking about it and all the unique circumstances surrounding all of us right now, it just seemed the timing and the opportunity was perfect to come back. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me to get up to speed in a relatively short period of time, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m excited to work with Kurt again and to meet all my new CGR team members, and I’m really looking forward to getting back in a Chevrolet. In 1988, I started my career in a Camaro and I can’t wait to finally race a Chevy in the Cup Series. I also need to thank Chip and all his partners for this opportunity. Hopefully we will be on the track soon.”