Matt Kenseth's New Ride May Be Silenced Because of Joey Logano
Matt Kenseth surprised the NASCAR world with his announcement that he would leave Roush Fenway Racing. He has a signed deal that many presume is with Joe Gibbs Racing, but he can't talk about it and perhaps we know why.
The obvious scenario for Kenseth would be to pilot the Home Depot Toyota for JGR. Currently, Joey Logano drives that No. 20 car, but he is in a contract year.
JGR has built history with Logano since he was pushed into a Cup ride perhaps a little before his time. It was announced in August of the 2008 season by JGR that he would drive the No. 20 in 2009.
Driving the Home Depot car had to be somewhat intimidating for young Logano. Tony Stewart had piloted the car for many years and won two championships with it.
Logano may have felt he was odd man out at JGR with teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Now he has gained confidence and experience. His feedback carries more weight within the company.
"We have made some gains within our company in the last few months and it's making our cars better, and like I said, the results are on the racetrack because of that," said Logano during a conference call with the media in late July. "So I feel like the three teams are working as one team better."
President of Joe Gibbs Racing, J.D. Gibbs, seems to be leaning toward a fourth team and it may be the home for Logano if Kenseth takes over the Home Depot car as expected.
Gibbs stated, "We want him to retire at JGR. We're trying to figure out how to make all of that work." That statement may well be the key to the delay in announcing where Kenseth will drive in 2013.
JGR needs to find sponsorship for the fourth team, with Dollar General perhaps being a lead candidate since it currently provides funding for Logano.
It would also need funding for a full season to keep Logano happy. He would not want to take a step backwards with a partial Cup schedule and full time in the Nationwide car.
Logano is exploring options elsewhere, which is the logical thing for any driver in a contract year to do. He could be one of the potential drivers to take over the No. 22 at Penske Racing.
Logano was asked about his future during that same conference call.
The driver said, "I'll focus on the racing part during the week, see where the best opportunity is going to be for me and go with that."
The devil is in the details. It may be the details of how to keep Logano at JGR that explain why nothing is being said about Kenseth. RFR may have some contractual agreement as well.
There are many moving parts with free agents, new teams and sponsorship negotiations. No doubt, JGR really does want to keep Logano, but can it take on Kenseth and a fourth team for him?
Once Logano is either in or out at JGR for the coming season, we will likely hear about one of the worst-kept secrets regarding Kenseth.
The other moving part that comes into play is the decision Penske Racing makes regarding who will drive the No. 22 permanently, since A.J. Allmendinger was fired because of substance abuse.
Sam Hornish Jr. has control of the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge at present, but the driver may or may not be the best choice for the 2013 season. Perhaps Penske will have a third team with the Fords.
It is silly season after all, but some pieces of the puzzle are starting to make sense. When JGR makes everything work out, the news about Kenseth may be announced surprisingly fast.
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