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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)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford tangle during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Ford EcoBoost Ford, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 5, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop Toyota, at the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, poses in Victory Lane with the trophy after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton ready for racing at Daytona International Speedway on 14 January 2014. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton in action at Daytona International Speedway on 14 January 2014. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, lead the field to turn one during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 23, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, take the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 23, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series TREATMYCLOT.COM 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Elliott Sadler, driver of the #11 GameStop-Turtle Beach Toyota, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop Toyota, lead the field into turn one during the NASCAR Nationwide Series TREATMYCLOT.COM 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates setting the pole position in qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates setting the pole position in qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 21, 2014 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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