In a surprising start to the 2012 NASCAR silly season, Matt Kenseth will be leaving Roush-Fenway Racing at the end of this season. He will be replaced by 2011 Nationwide Series driver Ricky Stenthouse Jr.
Kenseth has spent his entire career at Roush and has had success from day one. He currently is the points leader this season and is a strong contender to win his second championship. This is what makes the announcement so surprising. With the team and the organization at the top of their game, it is hard to believe that any changes would have been made.
The announcement is still early and so it is hard to say if this was a mutual split or not. From the looks of it, this seems to be a decision by Roush to get his young driver Stenthouse in Sprint Cup. It makes sense to try to bring him up from the Nationwide Series, but Kenseth is a proven Sprint Cup champion and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
So while the decision is surprising, it does start off the NASCAR silly season. Kenseth has been rumored to be possibly heading to Joe Gibbs Racing or Penske Racing in the number 22, which currently driver by A.J. Allmendinger. Penske seems like the best move for Kenseth right now, especially since they will be making the switch from Dodge to Ford. Kenseth has driver a Ford for his entire career and he knows how durable and powerful the Ford engines are.
His other rumored destination was at JGR. This move would be interesting if it was made. Currently, the driver of the number 20 car is driven by Joey Logano and he is a free agent at the end of this year. Joe Gibbs has come out and said that he wants to sign Logano past 2012, but that was before this announcement with Kenseth was made. Now if Gibbs wants to sign Logano he would have to move Kenseth over to a fourth car, a move that Gibbs might not be ready for.
No matter where Kenseth ends up it will be a great pickup by that owner. Kenseth may be a quiet guy, but he will be the most talked about name this offseason.
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