Though his departure from Roush Fenway Racing was announced in June, Matt Kenseth couldn't officially reveal his future ride for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for months.
Everyone knew it was Joe Gibbs Racing, but Kenseth wouldn't bite on questions from reporters and fans about where he was headed next – and the team wouldn't make it official.
But on Tuesday afternoon – 10 weeks after the news of his breakup with Roush was made public – Kenseth finally announced his plans for 2013 and beyond to reporters gathered at JGR's race shop in Huntersville, N.C.
"Surprise!" Kenseth said as he walked in, wearing a red-and-white striped JGR shirt.
Kenseth will drive the car formerly occupied by Joey Logano and will have sponsorship from The Home Depot and Dollar General (the team would not say specifically how the race sponsorship broke down). Logano is headed to Penske Racing's No. 22 car, JGR president J.D. Gibbs confirmed, a move which could be announced later today.
Now 40 years old, Kenseth will become the veteran driver on a team with Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. The 2003 Cup champ has talked about his reasons for the move before, but said Tuesday he felt his future at Roush was "cloudy" and said it had been weighing on him in the early part of this season.
He was approached by JGR in late May about the chance to drive for the team, and it only took him a few weeks to decide JGR was where he wanted to be.
"At the end of the day, it was a really unique opportunity," Kenseth said. "As a driver, you want to put yourself in a position that's going to be the most competitive to achieve your goals, and I felt like this was it."
Kenseth will team with current Logano crew chief Jason Ratcliff and drive a No. 20 car.
"It's a big deal for Joe Gibbs Racing," J.D. Gibbs said. "Unless you have the right guys behind the wheel, you're kind of wasting your time. We think he's the right guy for us and our future."
Team owner Joe Gibbs wouldn't reveal how long Kenseth's contract is for, but joked that at a team with three star drivers, "they just tell me how long they want to drive."
And as for the mystery was to why Kenseth wouldn't reveal his destination earlier? The driver said it was up to JGR to determine when the announcement was made, and J.D. Gibbs indicated they wanted to have Logano's situation settled first.
Gibbs wanted Logano to run a full-time Nationwide Series car and "regroup" for a year while running a partial Cup schedule, then move back up to NASCAR's premier series in 2014 as the team hopefully expanded to four cars.
But when AJ Allmendinger was released from Penske and the No. 22 ride opened up, Gibbs said he realized Logano was likely gone for a more tempting opportunity.
As for Kenseth, this year's Daytona 500 champion won the 2003 Cup title and has 22 career victories – all with Roush, which had been the only team he'd ever known since entering Cup full-time in 2000.
But Kenseth vowed to try and win the championship with Roush before he leaves the No. 17 car in the hands of incoming rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
"I'm 100 percent committed to that and only that," Kenseth said, noting he's only been in JGR's building twice. "There hasn't been any kind of transition yet, and there won't be until this season is over."