The Long and Short of It
Points leader Matt Kenseth will leave Roush Fenway Racing after this season and be replaced by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the team announced Tuesday.
Reports state that Kenseth is headed to Joe Gibbs Racing although it is unclear if it will be with a fourth team or in place of Joey Logano, who is in the final year of his contract.
Kenseth wrote on Twitter: âIâm very thankful to Jack Roush for the opportunities heâs given me over the past 14 years. 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 Jack and RFR.
âAlthough I have nothing to announce regarding 2013, I feel the timing of this announcement gives RFR ample time to get things lined up. Darian (Grubb) and Tony (Stewart) proved to us last year there is no such thing as a âlame duckâ team or season. We will continue to go to work and race hard.â
With the move, Roush loses the defending Daytona 500 winner but also a driver who is 40 years old. Taking over the No. 17 car for Kenseth next year will be 24-year-old Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the defending Nationwide Series champion.
âRicky Stenhouse Jr. has more than proved his abilities on the race track,â said team co-owner Jack Roush in a statement issued by the team âWe feel that he is not only a key piece of our teamâs 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 canât think of a better candidate than Ricky to usher in the next era of success for the team.
âOf course, Iâd like to thank Matt Kenseth for his many years of loyal service. 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.
âWeâre fortunate that we were able to tap into Mattâs potential and bring him on board many years ago, and Iâm 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. The No. 17 is positioned extremely well this season, and Iâm 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.â
Kenseth has run all but one Cup race in his career for Roush. Kenseth made his debut in 1998, subbing for Bill Elliott at Dover so Elliott could attend his fatherâs funeral (he finished sixth). Kenseth drove in five Cup races for Roush the following season before running full-time in 2000 when he beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. for rookie of the year honors in the Cup Series.
Stenhouse ranks third in the Nationwide standings this season with three victories. He has five career series wins in 87 starts heading into this weekendâs race at Kentucky Speedway.
CHANGING WAYS Progress canât come fast enough at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. As the NASCAR Sprint Cup season heads toward the midway point, Jamie McMurray is 20th in the points and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya is 22nd.
After an offseason of changes, the EGR teams have struggled to put together strong finishes. McMurray has three top-10 finishes and Montoya has two. At this time a year ago, Montoya was 16th in points with five top-10 finishes, and McMurray was 27th in points with two top-10 finishes.
Montoya says one must look beyond the results to see the change taking place after the it hired Max Jones as team manager in December. It was among a number of changes car owner Chip Ganassi started making last season to revamp his competition department and his teams.
âI think weâve done a lot of progress,â Montoya said. âIf you really go to the team right now and see how different everything is working, itâs pretty amazing. We havenât had the results we want to have, but there have been a lot of really good changes and weâve been putting people in the right place.
âJust because you put somebody in the right place doesnât mean that overnight you are going to run better. You want to run better overnight, but things have got to change. Everybody has to adapt and itâs a process. I really feel we made a lot of gains on the car; we made a lot of gains on how the whole engine department is working. Weâre definitely making progress I think.â
McMurray said the way the teams have been re-designed, its created better cohesion between them.
âItâs all for the better and Chip is still out hiring people and looking for more engineers and people to make it better than what it is right now,â McMurray said. âI think for us, my guess is somewhere around the last 10 races youâre going to see a lot of the progress. It takes time. Thereâs different suspensions, different simulations every week and sometimes they donât always work. Itâs kind of testing and trying to get things better. Itâs a big difference than where it was a year ago.
âYou donât go from running 15th to winning just overnight. It takes baby steps. But, I feel like weâre heading in the right direction. I kind of say the last 10 races because I think itâs going to take that long to get to where we need to be.â
Earnhardt Ganssi Racing hopes to be the new version of Michael Waltrip Racing in improving its performance.