Nearly two months after Roush-Fenway Racing said Matt Kenseth was leaving, the driver finally confirmed he's moving to Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season.
Kenseth just wanted some security. Joey Logano just wanted a full-time Cup ride. In the end, they both got what they wanted, writes David Newton.
"Surprise," he said as he entered a JGR news conference, a dry quip at one of the worst kept secrets in NASCAR.
Kenseth was deliberately vague, though, as to why he's leaving RFR after 13 full Cup seasons. He's never driven for anyone else at NASCAR's highest level, and paired with Jack Roush won 22 races, a pair of Daytona 500s and the 2003 championship.
"I knew it would not only be a good fit, but it's about winning races and winning championships and you want to put yourself in a position to be competitive going forward," Kenseth said. "I felt like this was it."
But he was winning races and he was competitive at Roush, where the 40-year-old Kenseth is considered one of NASCAR's elite drivers. Pressed as to what JGR offered, Kenseth knew he wasn't going to give a clear answer.
"There's just a lot of different things that go into that. It's about 2013 and beyond," Kenseth said. "I felt like and I feel like (Gibbs) was the right place for me. I know without a doubt at all it's the right place for me to be."
Kenseth was in the final year of his contract with RFR, and every one of his previous deals with Roush had been extended before he'd gotten to the final season. But he indicated Tuesday things "got cloudy" after his Daytona 500 victory.
Enter JGR, who has room for a fourth car but was also eager to add an upgrade to its lineup.
"When we realized there might be a possibility to get Matt, we realized it would be foolish not to do that," said team president J.D. Gibbs.
Kenseth said it was RFR's decision to announce in June that Kenseth was leaving at the end of the year and would be replaced in the Sprint Cup Series by defending Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.