Matt Kenseth Expected to Return to NASCAR Cup Series Next Month

Roush Fenway Racing appears to be calling upon one of its former drivers.

2017 NASCAR Playoffs Production & Media Day
Streeter Lecka—Getty Images for NASCAR

A report from SB Nation on Monday has Matt Kenseth returning to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series to share driving duties of Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford with Trevor Bayne. The team has scheduled what it has referred to as a “major announcement” for Wednesday, according to a press release.

Kenseth is expected to make his first NASCAR start of the season at Kansas Speedway on May 12.

After serving as a substitute driver for Bill Elliott in a single race in 1998, his series debut, Kenseth competed in five races in 1999 in preparation for a full-time Cup campaign the next year. He then raced for RFR through the 2012 season, winning car owner Jack Roush his first NASCAR top-level championship in the process. Kenseth claimed 24 of his 39-career Cup Series race victories during his stint with the team before moving to Joe Gibbs Racing ahead of 2013.

Kenseth drove the No. 20 Toyota for JGR through last season before being replaced by Erik Jones. When Kenseth announced that he had no racing plans for 2018, he declined to refer to himself as retired, instead claiming he’d return if the right situation presented itself. According to team owner Joe Gibbs, Kenseth’s release was not performance related. Instead, Kenseth was released to make room for young up-and-comer Jones, who JGR already had under contract and for whom the team needed to make room.

“I think on the overall picture though for us, we just got put in this situation with a lot of things happening to our race team over a period of about a year and half where we wound up at this spot,” Gibbs said during a media availability at New Hampshire Motor Speedway during a race weekend there last July. "We didn’t want to be here, but we wound up here and then we had to make a decision.”

Kenseth won his second-to-last race before his release at Joe Gibbs Racing at Phoenix International Raceway last November.

Bayne has been a full-time Cup Series driver for Roush Fenway since 2015. He previously raced part-time in NASCAR’s top-series for Wood Brothers Racing, claiming his lone premier-series win in the 2011 Daytona 500. In 117-career starts as driver of the No. 6, Bayne has four top-fives and 13 top-10 finishes.