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When Kyle Larson was suspended by NASCAR indefinitely due to he use of a racial slur during an iRacing live stream, it eventually lead to his dismissal from Chip Ganassi Racing. His firing left a hole on the race team that has now been filled. In an announcement today, Chip Ganassi Racing named former NASCAR cup champion Matt Kenseth as Larson’s replacement in the 42 Chevrolet.
Kenseth, who retired following the 2018 season, has drove 665 races over a 21 year career. He’s amassed 39 wins, 328 top 10 and 20 poles. His best season came in 2003 when he won just one race but had 25 top 10 finishes in the 36 race season.
He’ll be reunited with his former Roush-Fenway Racing teammate Kurt Busch (No. 1 Chevrolet). Busch and Kenseth were teammates from 2000-2005. In those years, they went back-to-back in championship seasons (Kenseth in 2003 and Busch in 2004).
In a statement to The Associated Press, Ganassi said, “I think Matt gives us the best chance to win, run up front and compete for wins. I’ve always gone with the mantra of trying to take the best driver available, and he’s the best driver available right now. And he brings something to our sponsors that they need right now. Stability. No baggage. Family man. Daytona 500 winner. Championship winner.”
Ganassi chose Kenseth over their developmental driver Ross Chastain as he views him as the future of the team. “I would say we’re on a plan with Ross,” said Ganassi. “This plan was sort of not congruent to that plan, if you will. The fact that Matt was available gave us some options there. It’s not about who we didn’t find, it’s about who we did find. But (Chastain) is still a part of this team, and I hope Ross has a future with this team.”
The only standing in Kenseth’s way of winning a second championship is a playoff waiver since he missed the first four races of the season. Early speculations are he will receive a waiver as he is expected to run all the remaining races.