CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Matt Kenseth Retirement Tour hit a major snag Wednesday when the 2003 NASCAR champion showed up to help announce a new primary sponsor for his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Kenseth, the 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, will be supported in a primary role by the convenience store chain Circle K for six races this season, part of a multi-year sponsorship agreement unveiled by JGR and Circle K officials at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
When JGR officials announced a week ago that the organization was holding a press conference with Kenseth and team owner Joe Gibbs, there was speculation that it was to announce Kenseth's retirement.
"I'm just glad I'm still driving tomorrow," Kenseth cracked when Circle K sponsorship was unveiled.
At 45, Kenseth is the oldest active full-time competitor in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. His 38 career victories include two Daytona 500 titles and he's won at all but five of the current tracks on the series schedule (Sonoma, Watkins Glen, Martinsville, Indianapolis and Atlanta).
"I didn't realize they put out a release that we were having this press conference today," he said, adding that he began getting texts from folks wanting to know if rumors of his retirement were accurate.
"I had no idea what they were talking about," he said.
"As long as you guys have known me, if I was going to do something like that I wouldn't call a press conference. I probably just wouldn't show up at Daytona and everybody would say, 'Is Matt racing this year?' Or (I would) send out like a four-word tweet."
Retirement's not something he's put much thought into lately, he said, joking that he plans to drive for "15 or 20 (more years).
"If (New England Patriots quarterback) Tom Brady can play football at 40 and still win Super Bowls, I think 45 is pretty young to try and win races."
Through the season's first seven races, Kenseth has three top 10s as well as three finishes of 36th or worse. He's 22nd in points heading into Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Gibbs, whose organization also fields entries for Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez, said he hopes Kenseth remains at JGR "into the future."
"That's kind of our game plan," Gibbs said.
"I've got to tell you, right now I look at him and he's on that bike all the time now, he's in probably as good of shape as he's ever been in his life and I know he has a burning desire to keep driving."