In a surprise move, Chip Ganassi Racing has signed former champion Matt Kenseth to take over the #42 for the rest of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season (whenever that may be). The car was previously driven by Kyle Larson until he was fired for using a racial slur in an iRacing Twitch stream.
Talking to the Associated Press, car owner Chip Ganassi explained that he chose Kenseth because he “gives [the team] the best chance to win, run up front and compete for wins” and Ganassi felt he was the “best driver available right now.” In addition to his on-track credentials, Ganassi noted that Kenseth brings “stability,” “no baggage,” and being a “family man” that was no doubt a consideration for sponsors who had to endure a PR hit with Larson.
Many people were expecting Ross Chastain or Jamie McMurray to step in and both of those drivers would’ve been great fits. Chastain as the future and McMurray as the past ticked the boxes of being high character people and would’ve been great in the car but Chastain probably would be better served focusing on Xfinity and we don’t know McMurray’s situation so Ganassi went with Kenseth. Kenseth has reportedly kept himself in shape by running marathons and Ganassi will request a waiver to make Kenseth playoff eligible.
Ganassi always says he “loves winners” and he couldn’t do much better than Kenseth. Over his Cup career, Kenseth has 39 wins (including two Daytona 500 wins) and was the 2002 champion. He has finished in the top 10 in points in 13 of his 18 full-time seasons. So even though he hasn’t raced since in NASCAR since 2018, Kenseth should still have the ability to get the job done.