Chip Ganassi Racing has picked former NASCAR Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth to drive the No. 42 Chevrolet for the rest of the 2020 season.
Kenseth has not driven in NASCAR’s top series since 2018, when he returned for a 15-race replacement stint in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford. The Sports Business Journal and the Associated Press were among the first outlets to confirm the news.
“This was an unexpected opportunity for sure,” Kenseth said in a release provided by the organization. “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 (Busch) 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.”
The move comes after Chip Ganassi Racing ended its relationship with Kyle Larson following Larson’s use of a racial slur on a live stream during an iRacing event April 12. Larson, who had been under contract with the team since 2013, is indefinitely suspended from NASCAR, and reinstatement will only be evaluated after completion of mandatory sensitivity training.
The 48-year-old Wisconsin native has 39 Cup Series wins that include two Daytona 500 triumphs (2009, 2012). He won the series championship in 2003, the last year before a playoff format was instituted.
“I have always said that when we have to fill a driver spot, that I owe it to our team, our partners and our fans to put the best available driver in the car,” Ganassi said in the team release. “We are doing exactly that with Matt. Throughout my time in NASCAR, I have always admired the way Matt Kenseth raced. He has proven to be a consistent winner, strong competitor, and respectful driver, and I’m glad we are able to add another NASCAR champion to the team for the remainder of this season.”
Kenseth’s on-track duties with the No. 42 team will begin when the NASCAR Cup Series schedule resumes. The sports world has been on hold since mid-March as the nation continues to battle the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. NASCAR competition officials have not yet released a revised 2020 racing schedule.