Gibbs on departing Kenseth: “We don’t want to race against him”

Matt Kenseth walks through the garage area after a NASCAR auto racing practice at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., Friday, July 14, 2017. Kenseth said Friday he has no hard feelings toward Joe Gibbs Racing after he was dumped by the team and has no concerns about his future, even though he has yet to land a job for 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Joe Gibbs is sorry to see veteran driver Matt Kenseth leave at the end of the season.

But the veteran team owner said he had little choice but to move on once sponsorship dried up for the two-time Daytona 500 champion and JGR had to find a spot for rookie Erik Jones.

“It was just a tough situation for us,” Gibbs said. “Things changed and then we got forced into making a decision.”

Kenseth got the news days before the New Hampshire race he was out at JGR at the end of the season. The 21-year-old Jones will take Kenseth’s job in the No. 20 Toyota. Jones is on a one-year loaner contract to Gibbs’ sister team Furniture Row Racing, and Gibbs had to put Jones somewhere in 2018.

“We did not expect to be where we are today,” Gibbs said. “We had a plan, and things kept coming up and changing. I mentioned Carl Edwards just being one of those. But all of a sudden things start changing, it puts you in a situation where you have to make a tough decision. We did not want to do that. We didn’t want to do something to upset Matt. He’s been a great partner for us, and our drivers. Everybody said, we don’t want to race against him. I think that’s what’s going to happen.”

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