There comes a day in every athlete's career when they have to call it quits. Father time makes no exceptions, and the most you can hope for is that you go on your own terms. For Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion, this season may be his last.
Matt is the oldest out of the 16 racers competing in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, at 45 years old. At that age, most any athlete would retire, but Kenseth still wants to race. Joe Gibbs Racing announced in July that they would be going with 21-year-old Erik Jones, leaving Kenseth without a contract past this year.
His Cup race win last Sunday in Phoenix, was his first in a year, and team-mate Kyle Busch had this to say according to autosport.com:
"He's been really down and frustrated and trying to figure out this season and what it's all about, to try to go out there and try to win in his final season, his not?'on?'his?'own?'terms final season," said Busch.
"It shows that there's no reason why he couldn't have got a job anywhere else.
"It's just I guess the industry didn't see Matt Kenseth as their driver, and that's really, really unfortunate because I love the guy and have raced with respect for him for a long, long time and will forever respect him for what he's done for the sport."
Martin Truex Jr called his win, "really cool to see" and said he was "kind of cheering for him a little bit because I couldn't catch him."
Many more have shown their support for the Wisconsin native with Mario Andretti even offering him an imaginary job if he owned a NASCAR team.
Long time competitor Dale Earnhardt Jr, joined the cup field with Kenseth in 2000, and its looks as if both will be retiring at the same time as well. Earnhardt Jr recalls Kenseth being very friendly and engaging saying this according to autosport.com:
"I hate to think that he is finished knowing that he wants to continue to compete.
"I know that he wants to race and I think he can obviously still be competitive and I hope that he gets the opportunity he wants to be able to continue."
Kenseth's #20 will have a special paint scheme for Homestead. His car will look reminiscent to the one he campaigned his rookie season back in 2000. A fitting farewell to one of NASCAR's best.