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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)
Denny Hamlin in the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at Daytona. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, lead the field to the green flag for the running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Reed Sorenson, driver of the #44 Golden Coral Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, Bobby Labonte, driver of the #32 C&J Energy Services Ford, and JJ Yeley, driver of the #23 MAXIM Fantasy App/Dr. Pepper Toyota, are involved in an on track incident during qualifying for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, during qualifying for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during qualifying for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 DOW Chevrolet, spin out in an on track incident during the 3rd Annual Sprint Unlimited at Daytona at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the 3rd Annual Sprint Unlimited at Daytona at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the 3rd Annual Sprint Unlimited at Daytona at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the 3rd Annual Sprint Unlimited at Daytona at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the 3rd Annual Sprint Unlimited at Daytona at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, walks through the garage area during practice for the 57th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2015 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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