Former Champ Kenseth To Leave Roush Fenway
Roush Fenway Racing announced today that 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will compete for the team full-time in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition beginning in 2013, while Matt Kenseth and Roush Fenway will part ways at the conclusion of the 2012 season.
“Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has more than proved his abilities on the race track,” said team co-owner Jack Roush. “We feel that he is not only a key piece of our team’s future, but a key piece of the future of the sport. Roush Fenway is an organization with a wonderful past and present, as well as an extremely promising future, and I can’t think of a better candidate than Ricky to usher in the next era of success for the team.”
Kenseth is the current Sprint Cup points leader. He won the series championship in 2003. He finished secoind in points in 2006.
The native of Cambridge, Wis., has won the Daytona 500 twice – including this year’s.
“Of course, I’d like to thank Matt Kenseth for his many years of loyal service,” Roush said. “Matt has been an integral part of this organization for well over a decade, and we are extremely appreciative of his accomplishments and contributions to the team, and will always consider him a part of the Roush Fenway family.
“We’re fortunate that we were able to tap into Matt’s potential and bring him on board many years ago, and I’m proud that together we were able to combine the tools and the resources of Roush Fenway with his talent and determination to forge a partnership that yielded a championship at the Cup level and all of his 22 Cup victories, including two Daytona 500 wins. The No. 17 is positioned extremely well this season, and I’m committed to providing the team the best resources to continue their run for the 2012 championship. I have no doubt that Matt will do his part.”
Rumors swept the garages at Sonoma Raceway over the weekend that Kenseth was talking to other team.
RFR has been unable to secure full time sponsorship for Kenseth’s No. 17 Ford this year.
“Matt and I broke into this sport together, learned the ropes and were able to bring home a championship,” said Roush Fenway general manager Robbie Reiser, who as crew chief of the No. 17 guided Kenseth to Roush Fenway’s first Sprint Cup title in 2003 before moving into his current role. “Over the 20 years we have worked with each other, Matt has been a fierce competitor and become a close friend, not only for me, but as a mentor to young drivers like Ricky. I wish Matt nothing but the best for the next phase of his career, and know that we’ll remain close.”
There was no immediate reaction from Kenseth.
Nor did Roush discuss reasons for the split.
Stenhouse Jr. is one of three drivers currently in development for Roush Fenway Racing. Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 champion and Chris Buescher, who has won seven races in only 42 starts in ARCA competition are also being groomed for Sprint Cup competition for Roush Fenway in the future.
“We take great pride in the depth of the bench here,” noted team president Steve Newmark. “The organization’s ability to identify and develop new talent is part of our DNA and a cornerstone of our success. I’m excited about the opportunity to bring Ricky into the Sprint Cup Series and get him into victory lane. He has an incredible opportunity to continue his winning ways, just as Matt did nearly 15 years ago.”
Jamie Allison of Ford Racing said, “All of us at Ford are certainly disappointed to hear that Matt will be leaving, and he will be certainly missed by us and the Ford Racing fans. We are thankful for Matt’s winning efforts and championship-caliber success with the Roush and Ford racing programs these past 16 years, both on and off the track.”2 Comments