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Joe Gibbs Racing extends Matt Kenseth’s contract, Dollar General sponsorship


Even though Carl Edwards may still be heading to Joe Gibbs Racing, Matt Kenseth won’t be going anywhere for a long time.

JGR officials announced Saturday at Kentucky Speedway that they have extended Kenseth’s contract (no specifics were given, but it’s likely through at least 2016 or 2017).

In addition, Dollar General will increase the number of races it serves as the primary sponsor on Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 27 races in 2014 to 30 races in 2015, and the potential of additional races beyond.

That is significant given that Home Depot announced earlier this week that it will be ending its sponsorship of the No. 20 at season’s end after more than a decade.

Dollar General, whose corporate headquarters are just north of Nashville in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, first began sponsoring Kenseth with 17 races in 2013, and then increased that number to 27 for this season.

“I’m incredibly fortunate to drive for Dollar General,” Kenseth said in a JGR media release. “They have great enthusiasm for our sport, and as a driver, it’s great to have such a supportive sponsor behind you.

“When you meet the people behind the organization, it is easy to see why they have had so much success in recent years. I’m looking forward to continuing our partnership together for many years to come.”

Kenseth is ranked fourth in the Sprint Cup standings heading into Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

After joining JGR for the 2013 season following more than a decade with Roush Fenway Racing, Kenseth went on to win a series- and career-high seven races.

This season, however, Kenseth has yet to reach victory lane. But he’s shown significant consistency nonetheless with five top-5 and 10 top-10 finishes in the first 16 races of the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule.

“Extending my deal with JGR is exciting and I’m still hoping we can match our win total from last year, but it’s really been a special year-and-a-half together,” Kenseth said. “Joe and J.D. (Gibbs) have been fantastic and show a commitment to providing all of us with the resources needed for a winning organization and I’ve been blessed with a great team led by Jason (crew chief Jason Ratcliff).

“The support we get from TRD has been tremendous and I’m excited for the future here with the No. 20 Dollar General team.”

Added team owner Joe Gibbs, “This is a big day for everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing. Matt has obviously had a big impact across our entire organization and our partnership with Dollar General has been fantastic. It’s exciting to be able to announce both extensions that will keep this team together for years to come.”

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Lorenzo looking to Honda, Ducati for help in MotoGP title race

ALCANIZ, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Jorge Lorenzo of Spain and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP celebrates the victory on the podium at the end of the MotoGP race during the MotoGP of Spain - Race at Motorland Aragon Circuit on September 27, 2015 in Alcaniz, Spain.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Jorge Lorenzo hopes that he can get some help from the Honda and Ducati riders in his championship battle with Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi in the final four races of the 2015 MotoGP season.

Lorenzo currently trails Rossi by 14 points at the top of the riders’ championship, and with just four races to go, barring an unlikely run of results, the title will go to a Yamaha rider for the first time since 2012.

The formbook offers little in the way of clues for the Lorenzo/Rossi battle, for although Lorenzo has won more races, Rossi has been more consistent, finishing off the podium just once this season.

Lorenzo had hoped to reel Rossi in last time out at Motorland Aragon, but the Italian rider managed to finish third, minimizing the damage of his teammate’s victory.

Nevertheless, Lorenzo was pleased to bounce back after two disappointing races at Silverstone and Misano, having lost ground on Rossi in the title race.

“I am very happy with this victory because it came after two races that were a bit disappointing and I expected to take more points, but due to a few factors and especially the weather, I failed to achieve the desired result,” Lorenzo said. “The victory in Motorland [Aragon] was crucial.”

Rossi was beaten to second place by Honda’s Dani Pedrosa after a titanic battle in the closing stages of the last race, and Lorenzo hopes that the Spaniard, among others, could aid his cause inadvertently again in the remaining four races.

“[Pedrosa] was very strong and it was useful to recover the points lost earlier and it has given me more chances to recover with four races left until the end,” Lorenzo said.

“But [Marc] Marquez or maybe the two Ducati riders could also stand in front of Valentino and take away some points. It is a real possibility, but very dangerous for us both.”

The next round of the MotoGP season takes place at Motegi, Japan next weekend.

Steiner: Haas F1 Team could not afford rookie mistakes

KANNAPOLIS, NC - SEPTEMBER 29:  (L-R) Gunther Steiner, team principal of Haas F1 Team, Romain Grosjean of France, and Gene Haas, owner of Haas F1 Team, pose for a photo opportunity after Haas F1 Team announced Grosjean as their driver for the upcoming 2016 Formula 1 season on September 29, 2015 in Kannapolis, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images)
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Günther Steiner has said that Haas Formula 1 Team could not afford to have its drivers making rookie mistakes during its debut season in the sport, reasoning the decision to only sign experienced racers for 2016.

On Tuesday, Haas unveiled Lotus driver Romain Grosjean as its first signing for next season, luring the Frenchman away from Enstone after ten years of association.

The second seat is set to go to either Esteban Gutierrez or Jean-Eric Vergne, who both work as development drivers for Ferrari and both have at least two seasons of racing under their belt.

As team principal, Steiner (pictured left) will work under team owner Gene Haas, and said that both had agreed that a rookie driver for season one would be unwise.

“We looked around a lot to find the right guy because we wanted somebody with experience but still hungry to do something, to go with us this long way,” Steiner explained.

“I started talks with the management of Romain in Barcelona to see if he’s interested and, you know, we spoke to quite a few drivers, and in the end I spoke also with technical people, what they think about Romain, how he develops a car.

“We have got a steep mountain to climb here, new team, all new team members, so we needed somebody who knows what he’s doing. I think in the end we found the right guy because he has so much ‘want to drive’ now, and he’s still aggressive or still wants it.

“He’s not [so] young anymore that he’s inexperienced. We lose time by having accidents or doing rookie mistakes. I think we just picked the best one out there for what we are doing, and we focused on him and got him, and we are very happy and we are looking forward to working with him.”