Matt Kenseth won’t return to the No. 17 Ford next year at Roush Fenway Racing, but that won’t affect their push to part ways as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.
Kenseth has 10 races remaining with car owner Jack Roush, starting with Sunday’s Geico 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway. While he knows he’s going to Joe Gibbs Racing next year, Kenseth insists he will be committed solely to giving Roush another championship.
“All your incentives are to try to do good no matter what your plans are for the following year,” Kenseth said. “All our incentives are to win races and try to win the championship.”
A year ago, Clint Bowyer knew he was leaving Richard Childress Racing, but he spent the last three months of the season focused on Childress, not his new job at Michael Waltrip Racing.
“Well, for me, it was a whole different sort of circumstances,” Bowyer said. “I wasn’t in the Chase and I wasn’t racing for a championship, so it was really difficult for me to figure out what … I was doing at the racetrack. It’s just of kind of buying your time ready to move on to the next chapter in your career.
“For him, he’s racing for a championship and he’s a championship driver. He’s done it before. He’s got a great team and, to me, is a threat to win any race and especially a championship.”
Kenseth still admitted the obvious: It’s odd to work with one team and Ford to win a championship at the expense of his team and Toyota.
“The whole thing will be different,” he said.
NO. 3 STILL NO. 1: Although Dale Earnhardt died 11 years ago, the die-cast replicas of his No. 3 Chevrolet continue to be the top-selling souvenir in racing.
While sales of collectibles are down for everyone, Earnhardt still is the industry leader.
“I mean, he’s a legend,” driver Jeff Gordon said. “He’s a guy that you’re never going to forget. I don’t know the specifics of those cars, if there was something special that they did to create something more collectible than others, or if it’s just a basic Earnhardt car that the fans are just still reacting to because they loved him.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is ranked right behind his father.
“But as far as the rankings when it comes to sales, Earnhardt Sr. or Earnhardt Jr. are still strong,” Gordon said. “It’s pretty awesome to see.
“I mean, to me, it’s not that surprising because I got firsthand experience of seeing how loyal and avid his fans were when we raced together. You know, you still see Earnhardt shirts and hats. So he still has an incredible fan base.”