Bombshell: Stenhouse Jr. to replace Kenseth at Roush Fenway Racing in 2013

Credit: Kentucky Speedway
Reaping the rewards of an exciting 2011 Nationwide Series Championship season and a great start to 2012, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be moving to the Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2013 for Roush Fenway Racing. The Mississippi native, who just two years ago saw his NNS ride nearly slip from his grasp, will take the seat being vacated by Matt Kenseth.

Yes, you read correctly, Matt Kenseth will part ways with Roush Fenway Racing after the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. 

In a press release issued by Roush Fenway Racing, team owner Jack Roush said, "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, who has been with Roush for his entire career, has 22 victories and one championship as driver of the No. 17. Kenseth, reigning Daytona 500 winner, is currently the points leader.

What's in store for Kenseth's future? Speculation seems to put Kenseth behind the wheel of a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for the 2013 season, though JGR isn't confirming. If Kenseth does make the move to Gibbs, would it be to pilot the No. 20, currently driven by Joey Logano, or is Coach planning on a fourth team? If there's no fourth team, then what happens to Logano? Back to Nationwide? It's worked for Elliott Sadler. 

As for other options, there really aren't that many open rides up for grabs. If Kenseth wants to say in a Ford, he could make the move to Penske Racing. The team will transition from Dodge to Ford at the conclusion of 2012 and Allmendinger, who has a one-year deal with the organization, has struggled mightily since joining Penske.

But a statement released today from Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing, seems to signal Kenseth's swan song from the manufacturer. “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. "We are thankful for Matt’s winning efforts and championship-caliber success with the Roush and Ford racing programs these past 16 years, both on and off the track. We will focus on this year and look forward to more success on the track in his No. 17 Ford Fusion this season.”

If Kenseth jumps manufacturers, there's an option to join the Stewart-Haas Racing team and take over Ryan Newman's seat, assuming that team owner Tony Stewart and Newman can't reach a deal. Maybe a switch-up at Richard Childress Racing is in the works? Could Jeff Burton be on his way out or is he just a place-holder until Austin Dillon is ready to make the move to Cup? 

No matter where Kenseth ends up, today's bombshell announcement has tongues wagging and fans wondering where Mr. Consistency will land for 2013. 

Bombshell: Stenhouse Jr. to replace Kenseth at Roush Fenway Racing in 2013 Bombshell: Stenhouse Jr. to replace Kenseth at Roush Fenway Racing in 2013 Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Tuesday, June 26, 2012 Rating: 5