Matt Kenseth not actively seeking a ride for 2018 I NASCAR RACE DAY

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Matt Kenseth has announced he is not actively seeking a ride for the 2018 season and that he thinks it may be time to step away from racing.

JOHN (VOICEOVER): Some big news yesterday from one of NASCAR's biggest stars. Matt Kenseth revealed to writer Nate Ryan that he will take some time off at the end of the year. He didn't close the door on returning, but a reasonable opportunity may not be available. Kenseth became one of the top free agents, with Eric Jones replacing him in the 20 car, Joe Gibbs Racing.

Kelly Wallace has caught up with Matt down in Texas.

- Thanks, John. Well, the biggest news to come out of this weekend was Saturday night when there was an article saying that Matt Kenseth is actively not seeking a ride for 2018. Matt, can you shed a little light on that?

- Yeah. It must have been a slow news day yesterday.

- Yeah. We thought Dale, Jr., was retired, but you know, in the article it said that, look, this is becoming a young man's game. You're 45. And you said, cold water in your face when you knew that William Byron got the 5 ride. I mean, we've all been in those situations before. Is that the way you feel?

- Well, no. I mean, that's not what I meant at all. And that's kind of taken out of context, at least what I meant. So those guys are all really good drivers. I just mean, not having opportunity at JGR. And then, you know, Hendrick's stuff comes up, which is obviously great stuff, and both of those guys rides got filled, and kind of got bypassed for that.

So that was just kind of, I guess, the clue to me, that it's probably time to step away and do something different.

- All drivers have been through this. And Kenny Schrader said, hey Herm. You'll know when it's time to retire because the sport will tell you. So you said that you've been thinking about this for a while, and it became clear at Martinsville. How big of a decision, and excruciating, was this for you to say and think about?

- Well, I mean, I've really known for a while. Probably just kind of been fighting it probably a little bit too long. But I really believe that things either lineup or they don't line up, and that all means something, and it all happens for a reason. And it was pretty obvious that, you know, the way things lined up, I wasn't really meant to race next year.

So I mean, I feel like I can still get it done behind a wheel. We've had a really, really tough year and the numbers don't really show that. It's been a very frustrating, disappointing year on pretty much every level when it comes to racing.

But we got three weeks left. We got great opportunity. We got great race cars at Joe Gibbs Racing, and I'm thankful to be driving those, and, you know, hopefully make something happen these last three weeks.

- Well, my friend, let me just tell you this. You're a great race car driver. You could possibly be racing next year. 2003 champion. 38 wins. Two-time Daytona 500, Matt Kenseth. So who knows what he's gonna do next year. John?

- And Kenny, gotta agree with that. One of the highest-class individuals in all of racing. But Larry, we had a bit of a feeling that this was coming.

- Yeah. Let me start by saying, Matt Kenseth can still drive a race car. He doesn't have to prove anything to anybody. But where the challenge came, with a race team, nothing to do with what he was doing on the track.

It's trying to sell a 45-year-old driver to a company that you know is not going to be close to long-term. I think that's the wall that Matt had. Nothing to do with his performance on race track.

- Yeah. And as we looked at his numbers there, he's a future Hall of Famer. There's no denying that. And you always want to see future Hall of Famers walk out of the sport on their own terms. And rather he does-- or it appears he's not gonna be able to do that, that's the disappointing thing here.

And I think as we move forward, and the garage gets younger, we're gonna see drivers have to retire younger if they want to do it on their own terms. They're not going to be able to wait until they're 45 and still make it happen.

- Yeah. Just simply a sign of changing times.