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

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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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Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”