Kenseth’s Solid Run with No. 17 Coming to an End
As of right now, Matt Kenseth has 451 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts. All but one of those have been in the No. 17 for Roush Fenway Racing(he made one startfor Bill Elliott back in 1998).
Since MarkMartin’s departure from Roush in 2006 (and, arguably, beforethat), Kenseth has been the face of the organization. He is the one who brought ol’ Jack his first Cup championship back in 2003.
Together they have won 22 races, including two Daytona 500s (2009and 2012).
But all that is about to end.
Roush Fenway announced earlier this week that Kenseth would not be returning to the seat of the No. 17 that he has piloted full time since 2000 (only Jeff Gordon has a longertenure with his race team) in 2013. Last year’s Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be moving up to take Kenseth’s
“Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has more than proved his abilities on the race track,” said Roush. “We feel that he
is not only a key piece of our team’sfuture, 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 thenext era of success for the team.
“Of course, I’d like to thank Matt Kenseth for his many years of loyalservice,” added Roush. “Matt has
been an integral part of this organization for well over a decade, andwe are extremely appreciative
of his accomplishments and contributions to the team, and will always consider him a part of the Roush
“It’s the end of an incredible run between Jack and Matt, one that has spanned 15 years, which in this day and age of professional sports is much longer than you’d expect,” said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark. “So we’re proud of everything that’s been accomplished there.”
But with Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards recently signing big contracts to stay, and sponsorship dollars
dwindling, there just wasn’t room in the budget to keep Kenseth at Roush. This year, the No. 17 has been run with a little money from struggling electronics giant Best Buy, some money from Ford, and
Jack Roush’s checkbook. Something had to give. Stenhouse comes a whole lot cheaper than Kenseth, so the face of the organization walks.
There has already been some speculation as to where Kenseth lands. The most talk is that the Wisconsin native is heading to Joe Gibbs Racing. He’s also been rumored to be a possible replacement for A.J. Allmendinger at Penske Racing in the No. 22. But based on the comments of Ford Racing President Jamie Allison, that seems doubtful.
“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,” Allison said.
For his part, Kenseth has been mum about his plans for 2013 and beyond, simply tweeting, “Although
I have nothing to announce regarding 2013, I feel the timing of this announcement gives RFR ample
time to get things lined up.”
Whoever snags Kenseth is getting a great driver and champion. But it sure is going to be strange to see
him in something other than that No. 17 Ford.
Contact Andy Cagle at email@example.com.
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