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Kenseth likely knows where he’s going and don’t get too excited for Stenhouse yet

By admin | June 26, 2012

By Richard Allen


On Tuesday, it was announced that 2003(Winston) Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth would not return to Roush Fenway Racing in 2014. This ended recent speculation as to whether or not the driver would be retained after his contract runs out at the end of this season. But it also opened the door for much more speculation as to where he might go and what else might happen.

This domino falling will almost certainly set off a chain reaction of events that will affect several other teams and drivers in the near future.

Here are some random thoughts of mine regarding several issues surrounding the Kenseth departure from RFR.

*Kenseth has a good idea where he’s going- If this announcement of Kenseth’s departure holds true to the form as has been the case in so many other similar announcements made in recent years, it was likely made as a preemptive strike prior to some other team’s press conference to present Kenseth as their new driver.

The rumor mill has centered around Joe Gibbs Racing as the driver’s most likely destination and that certainly is possible with this being the final year of Joey Logano’s contract with that organization and the fact that JGR is currently one team under the four team limit allowed by NASCAR.

Kenseth may not have a deal etched in stone with JGR or whatever team he hopes to sign with but he is probably close enough that RFR decided to go ahead with this announcement to make it look as if the move was their decision.

*There seems to be an RFR problem as much as anything- Roush Fenway Racing has struggled to find adequate sponsorship for their teams and drivers for a while now. Kenseth’s #17 entered the season not fully funded and that seems a bit odd for a driver who is a former champion and who had won three races the season before.

Also, RFR had to drop their flagship car in 2012, the #6 which Mark Martin ushered into NASCAR racing for Jack Roush, because they could not find backing for the ride. The company also cannot find enough sponsorship to fund 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne for a full season in the Nationwide Series.

Rumor has held in previous years that the organization prices themselves out of the market with potential backers and has thus been avoided by companies looking to get involved in NASCAR. There is obviously no way I could know whether or not that’s true or not but something is obviously amiss there.

And further consider the number of young drivers who have passed through RFR’s doors before fading into racing obscurity. Eric Darnell, Colin Braun and Stephen Leicht were among a number of names once highly regarded by RFR who have since virtually disappeared.

*Possible opening for Bayne in 6 Nationwide car?- Along with the announcement that Kenseth was leaving RFR came the news that he would be replaced in the #17 Ford by defending Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. If that is to be the case, what becomes of Stenhouse’s current ride in the Nationwide Series?

If the organization continues to compete at the Nationwide level it would seem logical to put Trevor Bayne in a fulltime effort there since he is under contract with RFR at least through the 2013 season.

*Don’t feel too happy for Stenhouse just yet- And speaking of Stenhouse, on the surface this appears to be a career making moment for the young driver. However, as was stated before, the #17 car could not get full sponsorship going into 2012 when it had a former champion and proven race winner behind the wheel.

Perhaps RFR has a plan but their track record of late in this matter has not been the best. The #17 may turn out to be no better of a situation going into 2013 than the #6 was going into 2012.

*A development deal for Ross Kenseth?- And finally, one domino that could potentially fall into place might be development deal for Matt Kenseth’s son Ross. The up and coming racer does not currently race in either of NASCAR’s top divisions so a perspective suitor could certainly sweeten their deal with Kenseth by making room for his son.

That’s quite a lot to consider but without a doubt, a lot of thought has already gone into this situation. And there will be many more pieces to fall into place before all is said and done.

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14 Responses to “Kenseth likely knows where he’s going and don’t get too excited for Stenhouse yet”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 7:47 am

    I knew Kenseth 2012 was hatching for years, ever since Reiser was no longer Crew Chief and DeWalt was no longer “Corporate Champion”. I would say Coach just to ire Rowdy and Friends not from our imaginations or RCR just to try to rile up Menard and Harvick en route to Dillon 2014 Rookie of the Year. Word on the Street is Stenhouse will have a different Sponsor ID and Tennessee Trevor Bayniac will be Ford or Toyota because I hear Toyota wants him back.

  2. mikeyfan1599 Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 8:32 am

    Rich how about this for a juicy rumor. Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch to Michael Andretti Racing and Dodge? Both have PC Provisionals to fall back on at the beginning of the season, both are top tier drivers and although Kurt may have some baggage to deal with, you can’t argue with his success. Both Kurt and Mr. Consistent, Matt Kenseth could put the new Dodge team into the chase from the beginning.

  3. Jesse Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 8:47 am

    This is more about what Toyota is doing to NASCAR than anything else, look at the in-car camera’s of the Toyota cars and the non Toyota cars, the non has all the sponser decals in the right places the Toyota cars have mostly Toyota decals everywhere, they are the ones that want all the exposure, not the sponser. So it cost less to put your money in a Toyota team, because they are funding most of it.

  4. John Fagan Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Fact it was annouced weeks ago that Stenhouse would be in the 6 next year and Trevor Bayne would take over Nationwide 6 full time in 2013. Fact for the past 2 years Jack Roush has been paying the shortfall out of the Roush Fenway pocket. Fact Home Depot didn’t pull the plug on the Gibbs deal they approached Edward’s and he was gone until Henry Ford III stepped in and made Carl Edwards an offer he could not refuse. You may have noticed that Edwards is Ford’s front man in television one of the top five wheel men and the best corporate and sponser spokesman deluxe with Bad Brad right behind in Ford next. Do all of you read AR1 or just dream some pretty bizzare scenerios. Do any of you do your own research. Read team news or Google ? One last Fact. Both Stenhouse and Bayne Have long term deals. Google it. JF, Motor City Mi.

  5. Michael in SoCal Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Mikeyfan1599 - Interesting thoughts there. I had forgetten about Dodge’s lack of Cup teams, and your post makes for interesting food for thought.

  6. Steve Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    “Rumor has held in previous years that the organization prices themselves out of the market with potential backers and has thus been avoided by companies looking to get involved in NASCAR.”

    I think you nailed it with this statement and Matt was probably getting tired of it. Something is better than nothing but apparently Roush felt otherwise. I had a feeling this is why Dewalt moved to Ambrose rather than staying with a already proven Cup champion. Stenhouse will come at a cheaper price for Jack, so I’m sure that’s the reason for the mutual split.

  7. Russ Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Think its all about the money. Yes, Roush has always tried to play hardball with sponsors. But, there are probably other issues as well. Still they will boil down to money.

    Anybody else out there save the pieces of pop rivets that breaks off to use for washers?

  8. tommy Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Dewalt didn’t move anywhere. They were bought by Stanley Tools as a part of the Black and Decker purchase in 2009. Stanley had a preexisting relationship with Gillett Evernham Motorsports and that deal dates back to 2008. Stanley decided to stay with the 9 team through the sale/merger or whatever you want to describe how RPM was put together when GEM fell apart.

  9. tommy Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Rich, the #6 was done after 2011. There’s no comparison between the two. UPS scaled back big time and were added to the 99 to make Carl’s deal better.

    Whether or not the 17 is fully funded, it’s much easier to keep a car on the track when you’re not paying the driver $6 million in salary per season.

  10. Allen Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    Speaking as a former Roush employee, I can tell you that Roush has always had a take it or leave it attitude with the value of their “product”. Going all the way back to 2001 with Sharpie/Rubbermaid for Kurt Busch. Roush got close to 50 million for 3 years worth. Kurt ended up winning the Cup and Rubbermaid couldn’t get out quick enough because they didn’t see the return for their investment. Remember the iconic Valvoline 6 car? Roush priced them out also because Pfizer was willing to pony up the asking price. The flip side to all of this is that the drivers are way overpaid. They all say they just want to race and be competitive. BS. But then again, jet fuel IS really expensive.

  11. Russ Says:
    June 27th, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    Allen, well said. Thanks for exposing a little of the reality of the “sport” that is often overlooked. Everything and everybody isn’t as wonderful as it is made out to be.
    One sponsor I know of got out ASAP and probably never will be back. Reason - the hero driver couldn’t string together 2 coherent sentences, and didn’t think it was important to attend sponsor events like store openings, etc. Of course there was no refund on the price. So Goodbye M_____ Oil.

  12. Offkilter Says:
    June 30th, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    Good stuff, Allen and Russ

  13. Tyler West Says:
    July 1st, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Roush as an organization SUCKS!! It has now for a while. They are notorious for not keeping sponsors and young drivers. Eventually Edwards will regret staying. I don’t care where Kenseth signs as long as he is leaving Roush. And the fools crying about a Toyota conspiracy need to get a life. Last I checked Chevy is still ruling the roost. Besides there all the same now anyway. Kenseth is better off.

  14. Sokam Says:
    August 3rd, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    I have been covering NASCAR for a nbmuer of years now, and I was taken back with your article. Roush/Fenway is a family a big, strong, dedicated family. I photographer Jack with Matt’s children just prior to a race; never published these types of photos too personel, and Jack is a carring Grandfather who really mellows around the children. The problem does not lay with the teams, it’s NASCAR . it’s too big, too costly, and too demanding. The COT is a failure, it costs as much or more than the previous cars. It was put into place to lower the costs, and it failed terribly in cost and on the track. NASCAR has been taking the races, the drivers, and the fun away from the fans for years now. NASCAR needs to re-evaluate how it got here, and how it hopes to stay here. If the drivers and owners ever unite and stand up against how they are used it will spell the end for NASCAR and what it could be. As of now it’s like a dictator, and the pheasants are getting restless. Too much money have caused the drivers to be spread too thin, and they can not get back to the very people who love them and it’s the fans. Long gone are the days when after a race the drivers stayed and greeted the fans on the front stretch, long gone are the days when the fans felty like they drive what their driver wins in, and long gone are the fans if the dictator does not wake up and stop fleecing them with higher and higher prices, with little or nothing to show for the $500 to $700 for weekend of racing at a NASCAR event. I think Jack has to keep his family intact, and if that means multiple sponsors for a very long season, then so be it. As alweays in the American way it comes down to Dollars and Cents. To run week in and week out, you need the Dollars, to want to do it, makes No Cents!