Roush Fenway Racing revealed on Tuesday that driver Matt Kenseth is leaving the team at season's end and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will take his place for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season.
Recently, there has been speculation that Kenseth would leave Roush Fenway due to sponsorship issues with the No. 17 team, and he would join Joe Gibbs Racing for next year's campaign in Sprint Cup. If Kenseth moves over to JGR, it's assumed he will either replace Joey Logano in the No. 20 car or Gibbs will add a fourth team. Logano, who won two weeks ago at Pocono, is in the last year of his contract with JGR.
Kenseth, the 2003 series champion, has been with Roush Fenway in NASCAR's premier series since his 2000 rookie-of-the-year season. The 40-year-old driver is the current points leader, with 11 top-10 finishes in 16 starts this year. He began this season by winning his second Daytona 500.
"I'm very thankful to Jack Roush for the opportunities he's given me over the past 14 years," Kenseth posted on his Twitter account. "Together we have enjoyed a lot of success. And as a team we are committed as ever to the remainder of the 2012 season and chasing a 3rd Sprint Cup title for (team owner) Jack (Roush) and RFR. Although I have nothing to announce regarding 2013, I feel the timing of this announcement gives RFR ample time to get things lined up."
A news release from Roush Fenway did not indicate reasons for Kenseth's departure from the team.
"I'd like to thank Matt Kenseth for his many years of loyal service," Roush said in a statement. "Matt has been an integral part of this organization 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."
Kenseth has made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship each year except 2009, when he finished 14th in points. When he won the series title in '03, the year before the Chase format began, he led in the point standings for a NASCAR-record 33 consecutive weeks.
"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," Roush continued in his statement. "The No. 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. I have no doubt that Matt will do his part."
Stenhouse is the defending Nationwide Series champion. He is presently third in the series' point standings. Stenhouse has made two Sprint Cup starts so far, with his most recent one in the Daytona 500, finishing 20th.
"Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has more than proved his abilities on the race track," Roush said. "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 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 the next era of success for the team."