It's been an open secret since he announced in June that he was to leave Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the current season, but finally Matt Kenseth has been able to confirm that he will be racing for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013 alongside Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.

"Surprise!" he joked, as he walked into the press conference in JGR team colours for the first time.

"It's a big deal for Joe Gibbs Racing," said team manager JD Gibbs at the announcement. "Unless you have the right guys behind the wheel, you're kind of wasting your time. We think he's the right guy for us and our future."

Gibbs told the press conference that the decision had been entirely team-led and not driven by sponsor pressure. "We felt like Matt was a great fit and brought a great future to JGR. I think the partners agree with that."

Keneth revealed that the team had approached him about the possibility of moving teams back in May, when Kenseth was feeling that his future as RFR was looking increasingly uncertain.

"At the end of the day, it was a really unique opportunity," he said. "Not many people get this sort of opportunity - to leave a winning organization and get to go to another winning organization. I'm really thankful for it and plan to make the most of it.

"At the end of the day, it was just really a unique opportunity. It's somewhere where it's not only a good fit, but it's all about winning races and championships," he added.

He said that it took him just a few weeks to make the decision. Kenseth had been with RFR for 14 years and was leading the Sprint Cup championship when he broke the shock news to his team and the media a little over two months ago, and he admitted today that "I'm not a guy who likes change," as he added that he hoped he would be with JGR for the rest of his NASCAR career.

The duration and terms of Kenseth's deal with JGR were not disclosed. At 40, Kenseth will be the oldest member of the team's driver line-up. Hamlin and Busch both attended Tuesday's press conference confirming

At the time he announced he was leaving Roush Fenway, he hadn't been able to say where he was heading and instead simply said that "I have nothing to announce regarding 2013," but the assumption from the start was that he was bound for JGR and that the hold-up was related to the team having to sort out the fate of the current driver of the Home Depot-backed #20 car, Joey Logano.

It was revealed today that the team originally proposed that Logano drop back to Nationwide Series competition next year and run only a limited Cup campaign until the team could hopefully expand to a four-car line-up in 2014. But that backward step and uncertain future was not to Logano's liking.

In the end, it was AJ Allmendinger's misfortune with a positive drugs test over the summer and consequent suspension from NASCAR competition that seems to have resolved the matter. Although it's not been officially confirmed, it's been widely reported this week that Logano will now move to Penske Racing and take over the Shell/Pennzoil-backed #22 car next season, dashing current stand-in driver Sam Hornish Jr's hopes of a permanent Cup deal with the team.

While welcoming Kenseth to the team, Kyle Busch said that he was going to miss having current team mate Logano around in 2013.

"I love Joey to death, I think he's one of the best and he's one of the hardest working drivers out there," Busch told reporters at the announcement. "I wish Joey would stay, but obviously if there's something better out there for him, he's got to do what's best for him."

Logano's current crew chief Jason Ratcliff will be staying at JGR, and will be serving as Kenseth's crew chief on the #20 car when the newcomer finally takes up his post after the current season ends at Homstead on November 18.

In the meantime, Kenseth still has a 2012 Cup campaign to focus on, and he said that despite parting with Roush Fenway it didn't mean he would be distracted from that aim by his forthcoming move.

"I'm 100 per cent committed to that and only that," said Kenseth, whose place at RFR will be taken by the team's Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. "I feel good about what we've done over there.

"We'll go out and try to compete for the championship," he said. "Everything I do for the rest of this year will be about Roush, and then I start here next year. I won't let one interfere with the other."



Loading Comments...