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Kenseth ‘anxious’ to get back behind wheel at Kansas

Matt Kenseth’s return to Roush Fenway Racing nears its first on-track time of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, and the 2003 champion is itching to get going.

“I’m anxious to get in the car for sure tomorrow and see where everything’s at and get acclimated to the team and the car and all the differences compared to what I’ve been used to the last five years,” Kenseth told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.” “I’m looking forward to all that. I just don’t have any idea what to expect until you get there and not only get through this weekend, but also get a couple weeks down the road.”

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Kenseth’s first start of the season comes on Saturday night in the KC Masterpiece 400 (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Kansas Speedway. The 39-time winner in the sport’s top series did confirm in the interview what NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan reported earlier this week that he will be in the car for the next five weekends for Kansas, the Monster Energy All-Star Race, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Pocono and Michigan.

Wyndham Rewards will be on the No. 6 Ford for Kansas as well as the Coca-Cola 600, the June 10 race at Michigan, the Sept. 9 race at Indianapolis, the Oct. 7 race at Dover, the Nov. 11 race at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix) and the season finale on Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami.

The 46-year-old Wisconsin native will split seat time with Trevor Bayne. Bayne has driven the No. 6 Ford on a full-time basis since the start of the 2015 season. Kenseth said that the relationship between him and the No. 6 team is developing.

“We’ve spent some time together. We’ve talked on the phone. We’ve spent some time together Tuesday at the shop,” Kenseth said of his interaction with Bayne. “I think we have to see how it goes really. Obviously, this weekend I’m driving the car and Trevor will be back in it in six weeks or something. It’s definitely a unique situation. It’s definitely a little bit different but I think it’s hard to say exactly how it’s going to go and where are roles are going to lie when we are not in the car until we really get going and see how it goes.”

RELATED: Bayne says health, passion for racing hasn’t wavered

Kenseth has not been in a Ford since leaving Roush for Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the 2012 season. The Blue Oval’s surge has been one of the dominant story lines of the 2018 season with Ford winning six of the season’s first 11 races. That success has Kenseth feeling good that things are heading in the right direction.

“Roush Fenway Racing has been on the upswing here the last couple years,” Kenseth said. “The cars have shown some speed. The 17 (of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) particularly has shown good speed more times than not. They don’t necessarily have all the finishes but they’ve certainly been showing pretty good speed at a lot of places.

“I’m optimistic for sure. The Fords are all running well so you know all that is there. Doug Yates has always done a spectacular job building engines and doing all that. You know all the pieces are there. I feel like they are heading in the right direction in a lot of different ways and I’m looking forward to hopefully being a part of that.”

MORE: Full schedule for Kansas | Stats to know for Kansas Speedway