Joe Gibbs Racing and veteran drivers are starting to not go together. First, Carl Edwards unexpectedly retired in the off season. Now Kenseth has said that he does not have a ride at JGR for next season.
While there has always been speculation that Erik Jones would end up at JGR, it was not clear who would go to make room for him at the four-car JGR Cup team. Jones is currently under a one-year contract at JGR partner Furniture Row Racing. Speculation was that 2018 would bring Jones over to the Huntersville, NC based Joe Gibbs Racing. It now seems likely Jones’ JGR ride will be the No. 20.
Before Friday morning Kentucky Speedway practice, Kenseth said he does not expect to return next season to JGR, saying he does not think he will have the option to race at the Toyota-backed JGR four car team. Kenseth, 45, is currently 11th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but winless in 2017.
Kenseth said he did not have anything solidified beyond the current season. Jones said the same for his future — plans have not been solidified yet.
“Hopefully I know soon,” Jones said.
“You know it’s kind of getting down to that point. I guess it’s July now, so I’m sure we’ll have an answer here soon.”
Whether true or not, Kenseth said he is not worried about next year yet, though he says he still hopes to be racing in 2018.
Kenseth is in a 34 race winless drought, but has had three top-5s and six top-10s in the first 17 races of the 2017 season. Kenseth’s last trip to victory lane happened nearly a year ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The 2003 Cup champion is in his fifth season driving JGR’s No. 20 Toyota. Over his Cup career so far, he has 38 victories in 631 Cup starts.