BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — Matt Kenseth still doesn’t have a job lined up for next season and the two-time Daytona 500 winner doesn’t really want to discuss his situation.
Kenseth is in the final year of his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing and the team has said Erik Jones will drive the No. 20 Toyota next year. The move left Kenseth without a ride, and seats are extremely hard for veterans to land in this current climate.
Team owners have found younger, unproven drivers are much cheaper to hire as sponsorship dollars are declining.
Asked Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway if he has anything for next year, Kenseth said: “No, not at the moment. When I do, I’ll tweet something. Like on a Monday or something. No plans right now. Just raise kids and hang out with my family.”
Kenseth is the 2003 NASCAR champion and won the Daytona 500 in 2009 and 2012.
He has been with Gibbs since 2013 and won 14 races for the organization. He is currently ninth in the Cup standings, not yet locked into the playoff field.
But Kenseth is also 45, and there is a rapid youth movement in NASCAR. Because fielding a team is so expensive, owners are no longer willing to pay big salaries when they can hire a younger driver at a fraction of the price.
It has created a dynamic where talented veteran drivers — Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Danica Patrick — either don’t have seats or sponsorship lined up yet for next season.
Kenseth said he’s not worried “even really one percent anymore.”
“I’m just not concerned about it,” he said. “I’m really concerned about 2017 and that’s the truth. Hopefully we get a win, get in the playoffs and try to race for a championship. That’s our goal every year and really that’s what I’m been concentrating on.”