2017 Season in Review: Matt Kenseth
CREW CHIEF: Jason Ratcliff
TEAM: Joe Gibbs Racing
WINS: 1 (Phoenix II)
LAPS LED: 421 (fewest since leading 108 in 2010)
TOP 5s: 10
TOP 10s: 18 (fewest since 15 in 2005)
POLES: 2 (Richmond I and II)
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Kenseth raced his way into the playoffs despite not earning any wins in the first 26 races of the year. He was one of three playoff drivers without a win after the regular-season finale ... Kenseth passed Chase Elliott with 10 laps to go in the Phoenix playoff race and survived to earn his 39th and likely final Cup Series win. It was his first win since the fall 2016 playoff race at New Hampshire.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Earned six DNFs, including three in the first five races for crashes ... Led 164 laps in the spring Richmond race from the pole before a cut tire relegated him to a 23rd-place finish ... Kenseth again looked in position to dominate at Richmond in September, leading 89 laps until he locked up the brakes entering Turn 3 mid-race. The smoke from Kenseth’s tires caused NASCAR to quickly throw a caution. Kenseth’s night ended in the garage after he ran into the back of Clint Bowyer as the field entered the pits during a Lap 237 caution. An ambulance parked near the pit entrance forced drivers to brake check, resulting in the accident ... Kenseth was eliminated from playoff contention in the Kansas elimination race. He was ruled out of the race following a Lap 199 crash when his team was caught sending too many crew members over the wall to repair his car.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2018: The first Cup season without Matt Kenseth racing full-time since 1999. In July, Joe Gibbs Racing announced Kenseth would be replaced by Erik Jones next season. During the fall Texas race weekend, Kenseth announced he didn’t have a ride for 2018 and he’d be stepping away from Cup racing.