Joe Gibbs says team isn’t ready to announce plans yet for Matt Kenseth, Erik Jones


SPARTA, Ky. – Team owner Joe Gibbs was tight-lipped Saturday when asked about the status of Matt Kenseth, who said Friday he wouldn’t return to Joe Gibbs Racing next season.

“Right now there’s quite a bit up in the air, and I don’t think there’s anything we can say that’s solid or done,” Gibbs said before the Cup race at Kentucky Speedway. “At least I guess what I’m saying is we’ll probably come up with something in the near future. We’ll probably come up with something. Right now it’s still for us, we’re not in a situation where we can say this is what we’re doing.”

Asked if he could confirm that Kenseth’s assertion that he would be leaving the team, Gibbs said, “Matt’s statement kind of stands on its own. We love Matt. So, I think right now is kind of a tough time for everybody. We’re kind of working through some stuff.”

The replacement for Kenseth is almost certainly Erik Jones, who is on loan to Furniture Row Racing on a one-year deal but seems to be slotted into Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota for the 2018 season.

In a Friday night interview with SiriusXM NASCAR channel host Claire B. Lang, Kyle Busch intimated that the move to replace Kenseth with Jones was predicated on sponsorship.

Kenseth’s car hasn’t been fully funded since losing Dollar General after last season, and Busch said Jones would bring funding to shore up the car’s finances.

Gibbs deflected questions about whether Jones was an option.

“We love Erik; Toyota loves Erik,” he said. “Right now our situation is we need to wind up with exactly what we’re doing and come out and tell everybody as soon as we do.”

At a sponsorship announcement in late April when Kenseth laughed off rumors he was retiring, Gibbs said that having Kenseth return next year is “certainly what we hope. That’s what we’re working toward. … He’s probably in as good a shape as he has been in his life, and I know he has a burning desire to keep driving. Our hope is he’s with us, and we continue into the future. That’s our game plan.”


NASCAR America: Should penalty for failing inspection be more severe?


After 13 cars failed qualifying inspection last Friday at Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR America’s analysts addressed the current state of rules that resulted in all thirteen teams not getting to make a qualifying attempt.

While Kyle Busch said the issues are “not that big deal,” especially with the new scanning system still in its infancy, Jeff Burton disagrees. Burton points to how much engineering has become involved in the sport and trying make cars better with NASCAR’s rules.

“It’s snowballed into this great big bag of rules,” Burton said. “We have all these rules that the teams have forced NASCAR to create. I don’t know the way out of it. There’s two ways to do it. You make the penalties harsher, with the theory being they won’t do it if the penalty is so harsh, or you have less rules. The problem is if you have less rules you’re going to have more cars that aren’t within those rules as they are.”

After the issues in Cup qualifying, NASCAR told Xfinity Series teams on Saturday that any team that did not attempt a lap in qualifying would start from the rear of the field and be required to serve a pass-through penalty once the green flag waved.

“It is a mess, but I disagree with Kyle (Busch), it is a big deal,” Burton said, citing fans who don’t get to see their favorite driver qualifying. “That’s not good. That’s not good for sponsors, that’s mainly not good for mainly race fans. If race fans tune in and their guy isn’t on track, why are they going to tune in next week? They deserve to see their guy on track. It’s got to get fixed.”

NASCAR announced Monday that inspection this weekend at Martinsville Speedway would take place after qualifying and would also serve as pre-race inspection.

Jarrett, who said there are too many rules, agreed with Burton.

“The only way of fixing this is making the penalty so severe that these teams aren’t going to take any chances,” Jarrett said.

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Auto Club Speedway recap, West Coast Awards

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and looks back at the weekend’s racing at Auto Club Speedway.

Rutledge Wood hosts with Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett from the “Big Oak Table” at NBC Charlotte.

What to expect from the show.

  • Martin Truex Jr. flashed his championship form from last year and earned his first win of the 2018 season Sunday in Fontana. We’ll recap the last race of NASCAR Goes West from around the “Big Oak Table” at our NBC Sports studios in Charlotte. Plus, Rut and the gang will hand out the West Coast awards, honoring the best moments from the Vegas-Phoenix-Fontana run.
  • NASCAR is a sport built on families, and it’s seen lots of kids grow up at the track through the years. We’ll spend time discussing the next generation to catch the racing bug – including Harrison Burton, son of our Jeff Burton.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you also can watch it via the online stream at http:/

If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Landon Cassill gets Cup ride for Martinsville, Texas

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Landon Cassill will drive the No. 00 for StarCom Racing in the next two races, Martinsville and Texas, the team announced Monday.

Cassill replaces Jeffrey Earnhardt. StarCom Racing and Earnhardt parted ways after Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway will mark Cassill’s first Cup race of the year. The 28-year-old has 259 career Cup starts and a career-best finish of fourth at Talladega in October 2014. He drove for Front Row Motorsports the past two seasons but was not retained after last year.

Cassill’s sponsor the next two races will be the United States First Responders Association, a non-profit, professional and social network of fire, EMS, rescue, law enforcement and military personnel, as well as civilian support teams.

StarCom Racing was privileged to acquire a new partnership with USFRA and Landon Cassill behind the wheel,” said Derrike Cope, team manager, in a statement. “I’m optimistic that his knowledge and experience will only help our efforts as well as the growth of our team.”

Said Cassill in a statement: “I love working with new teams. I feel like that is one of my strengths. StarCom Racing looks like they are in it for the long haul, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.” 

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Hendrick Motorsports withdraws appeal of Phoenix penalties against No. 9 team

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Hendrick Motorsports has withdrawn its appeal of penalties against Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 team from last weekend’s race in Phoenix, NBC Sports confirmed.

NASCAR found a L1 infraction on Elliott’s car in the rear-suspension after the race at ISM Raceway.

NASCAR stated that the team’s truck trailing arm spacer/pinion angle shim mounting surfaces must be planar and in complete contact with corresponding mating surfaces at all points and at all times.

NASCAR fined crew chief Alan Gustafson $50,000, suspended car chief Josh Kirk two races and docked Elliott 25 points and the team 25 owner points. Elliott’s third-place finish in the race will not count toward any tiebreakers.

Following Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, where Elliott finished 16th, he is 21st in the point standings.

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