Matt Kenseth has suffered through so much adversity this season — from losing his ride at season’s end to being eliminated from the championship due to a pit crew member’s mistake — that it was enough to bring the Cup veteran to tears of sadness.
Sunday, Kenseth actually broke into tears — but they were of joy, as he played the spoiler to win the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway.
“I don’t know what to say but thank the Lord,” Kenseth said to NBC’s Rutledge Wood with tears on his face after climbing out of his car on the frontstretch. “Just got one race left. Everyone dreams about going out a winner. So, we won today, no one is going to take that away from us.
“It was a heck of a race with Chase (runner-up Chase Elliott) there. … Thank JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) for a great five years. It’s been quite the journey the last 20 (years, the length of his NASCAR career), but to the fans, I appreciate it.
“The way this year has gone, I really wasn’t expecting to win here today, but this is a special one.”
Kenseth then broke into tears slightly in victory lane as he celebrated his 39th career win.
“Quite a storybook ending,” Kenseth said. “I wasn’t sure I was quite ready for this to move on to something next year. But honestly, God made the decision for me, he put me here for a reason and is taking me out for a reason. It’s just been an incredible journey. There’s no way you could write it any better than this. I’m kind of a loss for words.”