CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The re-hiring of Matt Kenseth by Roush-Fenway Racing wasn’t dependent upon obtaining sponsorship from Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, according to one RFR official.
The two announcements were made jointly, however, Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR premier series champion who was released at the end of 2017 by Joe Gibbs Racing is returning to RFR, where he began his NASCAR career nearly two decades ago.
Wyndham comes aboard to push its Wyndham Rewards program on the race track.
With work on 2019 budgets likely already under way for most folks, where did RFR get the money to hire the 39-race winner for much of the ’18 season?
“Jack does not do this for the money,” Steve Newmark said of team founder and co-owner Jack Roush. “Jack’s assessment is ‘What do we need to do win? What do we need to do to get better?’ The Red Sox and John Henry share that mentality.”
John Henry being owner of the Boston Red Sox and head of Fenway Sports Group.
Newmark, president of Roush-Fenway, said management within the NASCAR organization “constantly sitting down, trying to figure out how to get better.
“Budget obviously matters; it probably matters a lot to me as you’re running the business and trying to take care of a lot of the people who work for us.
“That was not a key consideration although it is wonderful to also bring on a new sponsor to this sport …. to us that’s a really big part of this whole deal, bringing Wyndham into the sport.”
Kenseth’s return to the organization was going to happen, Newmark said, with or without the Wyndham sponsorship. And Wyndham’s sponsorship wasn’t tied to Kenseth being in the car.
“They were not contingent upon each other,” he said. “It’s hard to predict but we would have brought Matt in regardless and it’s our hope that we would have brought Wyndham on regardless.”
Primary sponsor AdvoCare was on the No. 6 for 18 races last season and six of this season’s nine races. The company has been the primary since Bayne joined RFR in ‘15
Newmark said there has been no restructuring of Trevor Bayne’s contract. Bayne, the former Daytona 500 winner, is the current driver of the No. 6 Ford for RFR.
Kenseth, 46, left RFR at the end of 2012 with a championship and 24 victories; he joined JGR, won 15 more races and finished second in the points battle in ’13. He won once, at Phoenix, last season before his release.
Bayne is 27 and has been with Roush-Fenway since 2015; he has four top-five finishes in 117 starts with the group. His Daytona 500 win came with Wood Brothers Racing in 2011.