When racing is the only thing you’ve known for most of your life, the end is never easy to face. That is the case for Matt Kenseth. After he accidentally slipped out he would not return to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018, Kenseth wanted to leave a lasting mark. Solid performances followed the driver of the No. 20 Toyota, but victory lane seemed just out of reach.
Kenseth entered Phoenix this past weekend at Phoenix wondering if he would have another opportunity to race full time, or if he would get the chance to leave the sport a winner.
51 races since Kenseth saw victory lane in Loudon last summer. That streak would end in the Valley of the Sun as Kenseth would power past Chase Elliott for the lead inside of ten laps to go and secure a win that left the veteran driver in tears on the frontstretch of Phoenix Raceway.
Kenseth has never been an overly emotional driver, but he didn’t hold back following the checkered flag at Phoenix. “I never dreamed I’d win one of these races, so obviously I’ve been so incredibly blessed throughout my whole career.” Kenseth added, he never looks at the numbers, but he did notice that Mark Martin has 40 career Monster Energy Cup Series wins, “I’d like to get to 40 and tie Mark, he’s been my idol.” Number 39 is in the books and one more shot in the season finale would certainly wrap up a stellar career.
For Kenseth, that 39th win was a popular one. Especially on Twitter. Many fans took to their social media account wondering why a driver of Kenseth’s caliber is still without a ride.
Drivers and fans alike were happy for Kenseth.
Hopefully Kenseth had an unlimited data plan on his phone as the texts and tweets of congratulations rolled in from everyone that could drop him a line. People that have known him the longest, to his new younger competitors and even members of the media that have covered Kenseths’ career.
The drivers that passed through victory lane to congratulate Matt were a continuous train of his top competitors.
When it comes down to friends that wanted to congratulate each other, this shows it best. Dale Jr was one of the first to see Matt after his first win, and was the first one to the car at Phoenix.
And the possibility of entering the Hall of Fame together.
If there was one down moment for the driver of the No. 20 and his win in Phoenix. Matt said it through the Joe Gibbs Racing twitter page.
I’m sure they were crying happy tears right along with you.
One thing that will be missed about Matt Kenseth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage is that dry sense of humor. And this is a perfect example of it. He always had fun with anyone that was around him. Well played Kenseth.
In all of this, and everything that will be celebrated this week, we all continue to ask. Why doesn’t he have a ride for next year?
Well, we as fans aren’t the only ones wondering. One legend stood up and made sure Kenseth knew he belonged in a car.
You know you’ve done it right when Mario Andretti has your back.
Kenseth is a champion, a fan favorite and without question a Hall of Famer. It’s sad to see him forced out like this, but we all know times change in this sport, and many times it does it without notice.
Go play spoiler in Homestead, and ride off a winner.