Matt Kenseth has one more race to run before he wraps up what could be the final season of his career, but as far as the 45-year-old is concerned, he’s going out on top.
Kenseth, who does not have a contract to drive anywhere next season, earned what might be his last Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win Sunday at Phoenix Raceway. And the magnitude of the moment wasn’t lost on the former champion.
“It’s been an amazing journey,” Kenseth said, tears streaming down his face, after he hopped out of his No. 20 Toyota near the finish line. “I know I’m being a big baby right now, but I’ve got just one race left. Everybody dreams of going out a winner. We won (Sunday). Nobody can take that away from us.”
Kenseth, who captured the then-Winston Cup Series title in 2003, has long been one of the most respected drivers in the garage. The lone blemish on his reputation was his infamous run-in with Joey Logano at Martinsville in 2015, after Logano had ruined maybe Kenseth’s last-best chance at another championship at Kansas.
But Kenseth showed the softer side fans are more familiar with on Sunday, even saying in victory lane that he regretted having to miss his daughter’s recital to compete in the race.
Despite still being a threat to win any race on the calendar, the Wisconsin native is without a ride for 2018, as 21-year-old Erik Jones is slated to take Kenseth’s spot in the No. 20 next season. If this ends up being the end for Kenseth, he sounds prepared for the possibility — and a victory in his penultimate race surely will take away a little bit of the sting.
Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images
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