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Stenhouse Jr. in, Kenseth to exit Roush

As for Kenseth, the 40-year-old former Cup champion insisted on Twitter that "I have nothing to announce regarding 2013," adding: "I feel the timing of this announcement gives RFR ample time to get things lined up."

The general assumption in the NASCAR paddock is that Kenseth is close to a deal to join Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013. Last year, JGR made a big play for another Roush Fenway free agent in Carl Edwards, who at the time was leading the Sprint Cup points standings - just as Kenseth is currently doing in 2012.

Last year JGR were looking for someone to build a fourth car operation around, and while that's still a possibility for them with Kenseth, it's also possible that the team are lining him up as a replacement for Joey Logano who is out of contract at the end of the season. Logano's position at JGR has been the subject of much speculation in recent months after being perceived not to have delivered on his early potential, but his performance has picked up in recent weeks with victories in both the Nationwide and Cup championships for the team.

If Kenseth did not move to JGR then the open slots at top teams are few and far between. It had been suggested that he might move to Penske, since that team are moving from Dodge to Ford engines next season and someone with Kenseth's considerable experience and expertise with the Ford units would be a considerable asset.

However Ford's racing director Jamie Allison cooled that speculation when he realsed a statement today in response to the Roush announcement in which he 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," adding: "We are thankful for Matt's winning efforts and championship-calibre success with the Roush and Ford racing programs."

Of more immediate concern is where this leaves Kenseth's 2012 Sprint Cup championship bid, and whether the team will be fully behind him as the season moves to its climax. At the moment, Kenseth holds an 11pt lead in the standings over his current Roush team mate Greg Biffle.

"The #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," stated Roush emphatically. "I have no doubt that Matt will do his part."

"As a team we are committed as ever to the remainder of the 2012 season and chasing a 3rd sprint cup title for Jack and RFR," agreed Kenseth on Twitter. "Darian and Tony proved to us last year there is no such thing as a 'lame duck' team or season. We will continue to go to work and race hard," he added, referring to Tony Stewart and his crew chief Darian Grubb, who blazed to victory in the 2011 Chase despite Grubb knowing early in the process that he was being let go by Stewart.

The 14 year partnership between Roush and Kenseth had been the longest of any active owner and driver in NASCAR, with the sole exception of Jeff Gordon's 19-year stint at Hendrick Motorsport. He would have reached the 500-start landmark with the team if he'd extended into the 2013 season. Kenseth has started all but one of his Cup races in a Roush Fenway Racing car, but made his d├ębut at Dover in September 1998 as a stand-in for owner-driver Bill Elliott when Elliott had to attend his father's funeral.




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 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)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane with the trophy, NASCAR President Mike Helton and sportscaster Krista Voda during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and placing ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and his daughter Elladee take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton drives the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 13, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, speaks to the media during a press conference after failing to advance to race for the championship in the season finale after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, leads Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Menards/Hormel Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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