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Stenhouse Jr. in, Kenseth to exit Roush

Matt Kenseth is to leave Roush Fenway Racing at the end of 2012 after 14 years together, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to get his chance of a full time Cup ride in the #17.
Roush Fenway Racing announced on Tuesday that they are parting company with Matt Kenseth, who has been with the team for 14 years including winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in 2003.

"I'd like to thank Matt Kenseth for his many years of loyal service," said team co-owner Jack Roush. "Matt has been an integral part of this organisation 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," he added - one of which came just four months ago.

"I'm very thankful to Jack Roush for the opportunities he's given me over the past 14 years. Together we have enjoyed a lot of success," responded Kenseth via his Twitter page.

No reason was given for the decision to part company. As recently as last month, both Kenseth and Roush indicated that they were hoping that it would be possible to reach an agreement to extend the current contract: "He's a cornerstone of Roush Fenway and he'll be part of it as long as I am and as long as he wants to be, as long as I'm able to stay at the head of it," said Roush at the time.

However, the #17 car has been struggling to find sponsorship this season following the departure of long-time backer Crown Royal at the end of 2011 and has had to rely on a patchwork of deals with Best Buy, Fifth Third Bank, Zest, Vavoline and Ford - with Roush also having to dip into his pocket at times. Over the winter, the team terminated the fourth car in its Cup line up, the #6 car driven last season by David Ragan, after losing the backing of another big sponsor, UPS.

The team will be in a lot better financial situation without having to pay the salary of a former Cup champion, with the team announcing that they will be replacing Kenseth by putting their leading development driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. behind the wheel of the #17 next season. Stenhouse is locked into a long-term deal with the team but has been growing frustrated with the lack of opportunities to move up from the Nationwide Series after clinching the title at the end of 2011 for Roush.

"Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has more than proved his abilities on the race track,” said Roush of the 24-year-old driver. "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 organisation 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."

As well as Stenhouse, Roush's development stable also includes Trevor Bayne who shot to fame after winning the 2011 Daytona 500 while being loaned out to the Wood Brothers team for a limited Cup season. Despite that success, Bayne still has been unable to get sufficient sponsorship to put together a full-time run in either championship in 2012.




Related Pictures

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Matt Kenseth raises the Harley J. Earl Trophy for the second time after winning the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. [Picture Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Best Buy Ford, talks with crew chief Jimmy Fennig in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Roush Fenway team mates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth talk in the garage ahead of the All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth at Texas during Thursday practice. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Door/Menards Toyota, leads a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on August 30, 2015 in Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, leads Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Great Lakes Flooring/Menards Toyota, during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Great Lakes Flooring/Menards Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 JEGS Toyota, race during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 race, at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, lead the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 16, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, races Brian Scott, driver of the #2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet, during the Nationwide Children`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 15, 2015 in Lexington, Ohio. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 ARRIS Toyota, drive during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, poses with Miss Coors Light Amanda Mertz after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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