Matt Kenseth to drive No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing

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Matt Kenseth is coming back to drive the No. 42 car for Chip Ganassi Racing for the rest of the 2020 season, the team confirmed Monday.

“I have always said that when we have to fill a driver spot, that I owe it to our team, our partners and our fans to put the best available driver in the car. We are doing exactly that with Matt,” car owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “Throughout my time in NASCAR, I have always admired the way Matt Kenseth raced. He has proven to be a consistent winner, strong competitor, and respectful driver, and I’m glad we are able to add another NASCAR champion to the team for the remainder of this season.”

Said Kenseth in a statement: This was an unexpected opportunity for sure. I can’t say racing was even on my radar two weeks ago. After spending some time thinking about it and all the unique circumstances surrounding all of us right now, it just seemed the timing and the opportunity was perfect to come back. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me to get up to speed in a relatively short period of time, but I’m looking forward to the challenge. I’m excited to work with Kurt (Busch) again and to meet all my new CGR team members, and I’m really looking forward to getting back in a Chevrolet. In 1988, I started my career in a Camaro and I can’t wait to finally race a Chevy in the Cup Series. I also need to thank Chip and all his partners for this opportunity. Hopefully we will be on the track soon.”

MORE: Matt Kenseth discusses his surprising return

MORE: Highlights of Matt Kenseth’s NASCAR career

Kenseth last competed in Cup in 2018, running a partial schedule for Roush Fenway Racing. His last full-time Cup season was 2017 for Joe Gibbs Racing. His last Cup win was in the penultimate race in 2017 at Phoenix Raceway.

The 48-year-old former Cup champion has 39 career series wins, including two Daytona 500 triumphs, along with his 2003 series title.

He replaces Kyle Larson, who was fired April 14 by the team for uttering a racial slur during an iRacing event.

NASCAR is looking at May 17 at Darlington Raceway as the return for the Cup Series since the season was suspended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kenseth would need a waiver from NASCAR to be eligible for the playoffs since he did not compete in the first four races.

“That’s something we’ve got to talk about (with NASCAR),” Ganassi told NBC Sports. “We’re going to meet with them quickly here.”