June 30, 2012
By Jim Fitzgerald
Up In The Marbles…After The Toyota/Save Mart 350
New Things Are Brewing At Roush
I like beer.
I think it is always good to start a conversation with an honest comment, so there it is. I like beer.
I will tell you that I like a hoppy beer, such as an India Pale Ale, but there are others I enjoy as well. I know I am in the minority when it comes to my taste in beer, and that’s fine. I have been bucking trends for as long as I can remember, and it is okay if you do not like the same beer that I like.
I say that now, but if I am enjoying a nice craft beer at a craft-beer type of establishment, and you walk up and order a main stream light beer, I will probably snicker and call you some sort of lady parts under my breath, or proclaim that I was unaware they were selling water in cans now.
I will have to tell you that if you tried to pin me down to make a decision about the beer that I like the most, I would say the answer is DogFish Head 60 Minute IPA. It is always tasty, bottled or from the tap, and I know it will deliver for me every time.
However, sometimes, you have to get out of your comfort zone. You go and go and go with the same thing, and you never know what could be until you try new things. I had to try the 60 minute in order to break away from what I knew as my favorite before, right? So, I left behind my previous favorite for someone else to have, and I moved on to something else.
Recently, I decided to try something new, and bought a kit that will allow me to start brewing my own beer. It came with buckets and a big bottle, and all sorts of tubing and equipment and yes, I am completely in over my head. But, my wife and I, who on the day of this writing are celebrating our fifteenth anniversary, rolled up our sleeves and got into the brewing process on Wednesday night.
Cooking and cleaning and boiling and siphoning…honestly, it was a pain in the pot paddle. But not everything goes smoothly the first time you do it. I am excited, however, about the process, and unless it completely disappoints, I’ll be happy with my decision to go in this different direction.
Now, in my best Waylon Jennings “Dukes of Hazzard” narration voice, I ask you: “Y’all see where I’m goin’ with this yet?”
The announcement made earlier this week that Matt Kenseth will not return to his current seat within the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford after the conclusion of the 2012 season, was fairly shocking to the automobile racing world. I know I dropped my jaw when I saw it. In fact, a friend of mine and I were talking just one day before, and I told him that I doubted Matt Kenseth would be going anywhere.
I admit it, I am a great fan of Matt Kenseth, and have been for more than a decade. Do you see the email address at the bottom of this page, which you can use to contact me? There is a 17 in there, and it is for Matt Kenseth.
There are things in life that most assuredly make sense together. Peanut Butter and Jelly is the ultimate combination. Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman; they have been together since before Mark Martin made his first career start at Dover in 1982. Cookies and Milk? Santa’s been eating that for years. Matt Kenseth and Jack Roush? They have been a staple on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule since…since…since cookies and milk!
I thought that Matt Kenseth would drive for Roush Fenway Racing until the sun set on his career, especially if you consider the investment Roush has made in Kenseth, running the team out of his own pocket whenever sponsorship was not available. That is quite a commitment.
But knowing what we know now, that Kenseth and Roush will indeed go their separate ways at the end of this season, many fans are asking, “WHY?”
Well, let me introduce myself. I am Matt Kenseth, and my Sprint Cup ride is my beer. For the longest time, Matt Kenseth has been in the No. 17 Ford. DeWalt, R&L Carriers, Carhartt, Smirnoff, Ford EcoBoost, USG Sheetrock, Crown Royal, Zest, Best Buy…whichever company found its way onto the hood, deck lid, or quarter panels of Matt Kenseth’s race car, they knew they were going to get a quality run for their money. Matt Kenseth is not a back-marker, nor field filler. Matt Kenseth will, with a top 15 car, get you a top ten.
With a top ten car, you would probably end up with a top five finish. And if that car is capable of a top three finish, the field is toast, because barring a mechanical failure or contact with another driver, Matt can bring it home. Always competitive, a great fan favorite, and you can perpetually count on the fact that Matt Kenseth will deliver for you.
But sometimes, you have to step out of your comfort zone, and try something new. Only those behind the scenes will know truly what happened until someone makes it public. Did Jack go to Matt? Did Matt go to Jack? Who instigated the conversation? I don’t know. I don’t really care. Someone decided to try a new beer, and here we are.
Matt Kenseth’s No. 17 car looks to be ready for a new driver in Ricky Stenhouse. Stenhouse will have some big shoes to fill, but stepping into an established pair of shoes will at least get him walking in the right direction from the start.
Matt Kenseth has yet to make his plans for the 2013 season and beyond known publicly, but if you listen to everyone who is speaking about it, there seems to be little doubt about where he will land. The unannounced and most speculated upon plan is that Kenseth will go into the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota with Joe Gibbs Racing, and Joey Logano will move from that seat, presumable into a fourth JGR car with a new team.
All of this makes great sense, if you think about it. Logano gets to keep a ride where he is now after showing a good bit of improvement this season. Kenseth goes from a proven race winning championship contending ride to a proven race winning championship contending ride. Finally, Stenhouse gets to vacate his Nationwide Series ride (enter: Trevor Bayne) and get into one of the best cars on the track week in and week out.
Kenseth is the current Sprint Cup Series points leader, by the way.
Some of that plan is already known, and some of it, at this point, is still speculation, but everyone involved seems to be in at least an equal or better place. There is a question of spotters and crew chiefs and crew members, one I’m very interested in as I believe that Crew Chief Jimmy Fennig, Spotter Mike Calinoff, and Driver Matt Kenseth have great relationships together, and I would hate to see that go away, but it is what it is. People find new jobs all the time. The only major lingering problem is the perception of the fans, and the propensity to vilify someone in these dealings.
To the fans that are or were upset by the announcements made on Tuesday, I offer the following words of advice: Have an open mind. Sit back, enjoy the racing and the possibilities that come from these moves, and once in a while, and try a different beer!
Remember to follow me on Twitter: @forewasabi. I always have nothing important to say.
"The horizon is out there somewhere, and you just keep chasing it, looking for it, and working for it."
You can contact Jim at.. Insider Racing News
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.