CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Matt Kenseth has kept his name out of the rumor mill for most of his NASCAR career.
When it finally popped up, it was a bombshell: The Sprint Cup Series points leader was planning his departure from Roush Fenway Racing.
Kenseth said Wednesday that he has a new deal already in place for 2013, and although he said he's not ready to announce it, all signs point to a move to Joe Gibbs Racing. He laughed when asked how he went from being a guy nobody even mentioned in free-agent discussions to one of the biggest movers in many years.
"Everybody's personality is different, and I've always preferred to do as much of my business as possible behind closed doors because it's my business and my career," Kenseth said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
"You don't want outside forces trying to play a role in what you do, or influencing you. So you just keep it quiet. This happened fairly quickly, but this season has been a very stressful two or three months, and what's been put together was done in a matter of weeks."
Kenseth has spent his entire career at Roush, where he won two Daytona 500s and the 2003 Cup championship. He has never earnestly tested the free-agent market before, and each of his contracts at Roush had been extended before the final year arrived.
So even though he has been unsigned all season, nobody figured he'd ever leave Roush, where he's driven the No. 17 Ford in all but one of his 452 Cup starts dating to 1998.